How do you pair wine with food?

Tanya Steel: Pairing wines with foods is a very fun thing to do, and people are very insecure about it.  And there is so much written about it.  And on our blog we get a lot of questions about pairing food with wine, and so we do a lot on the site about it.  It’s really not that difficult.  You really need to think about complimentary tastes in the way that you would think about complimentary colors when you’re putting together a suit.  You think about the same thing with a meat and an acid is essentially what you’re trying to do.  So that said, there are certain wines that almost go with everything.  So for instance Merlot kind of is soft enough that it will go with fish and it’ll go with meat.  … from France is kind of steely enough that it is beautiful with fish and pasta; and yet if you’re having pork it’s kind of soft enough for that.  So it’s . . .  There are no hard and fast rules.  The concept of, you know, red with meat and white with fish is not necessarily true, because the gamut of whites and the gamut of reds are now so vast that you really can pair things with other things.  You wanna . . .  The number one rule of pairing wine with food is that you need to have them complimentary; they really need to enhance each other and not fight each other.  You really don’t want two bold flavors together.  And that’s really what you have to do.  The best way to do that is to taste the wine beforehand.  So if you’re at a restaurant, always ask to taste something beforehand and they should always oblige.  If you’re at home, open the bottle before you start to make the recipe because you know you can envision what the steak you’re gonna make tastes like.  And you can check and see if this . . . is this white really gonna be able to stand up to it.  So that’s really the most important rule, is to really kind of . . . to taste.  And if you already have it in your brain, in your sensory palate, to kind of weigh them together.

Recorded on 1/17/08

Steel talks about the most unusual wine pairing she's ever come up with.

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