Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Food, Wine and Health

Wine is food. Served as a part of the meal for centuries, it enhances the appetite. It cleanses the palate so that each bite of food is tasted fresh and anew. The flavors and aromas in wine pair up with foods, creating new flavor hybrids. Wine aids in digestion. The goal here is to give you the information you need to expertly match a wine with its best food.

-You don't need to follow any rules. There is nothing wrong with flying in the face of conventional wisdom and pairing a California Chardonnay with a grilled rib-eye steak or having a bottle of Barossa Shiraz with oysters. If the combination makes you happy, then it works for you. On the other hand, anyone who spends hours fussing over the spices and herbs in a nice dinner will likely care about finding a wine that enhances the food and vice versa. The key is to find a combination that accomplishes two goals. First, neither food nor wine should overpower the flavors or aromas of the other. And second, a bite of one and a sip of the other should make you want to go through the cycle again. As long as you follow those principles, everything should work out fine.

-Learning to pair food and wine is too complex to be summed up in a simple phrase. A sensory evaluation of food and wine involves aromas, tasters, weight, density, and mouth feel, and those characteristics can yield hundreds of permutations, some quite unpredictable. White Pinot Gris from Alsace goes well with their local pork stew, while Oregon salmon works well with Oregon's red Pinot Noir. The best rule is to try not only some established combinations but also try nontraditional ones that appeal to you.

-Champagne is the most versatile of all wines. It is delightful with raw foods from hamachi sashimi to steak tartare and cooked foods from baked oysters to sautéed foie gras. Champagne has three secret weapons. First the carbonation acts like millions of tiny scrubbing bubbles to cleanse your palate. Then it's refreshing acidity works with the carbonation to make each taste as rousing as the first acts like a spritz of lemon juice on raw oysters. Finally, since Champagne is available in different textures and levels of sweetness, you can even fine-tune the pairing. The most common levels of sweetness made in Champagne, with each consecutively sweeter, are Brut, Extra Dry, and Demi Sec. The next entry features foods that are ideal matches with Champagne and sparkling wines. There is no more versatile wine to make a dinner perfect then a well made sparkling wine. For foods as delicate as oysters all the way to a grilled steak, a perfect sparkling wine awaits the chance to be paired with your cuisine.

-Whether you're trying to find a wine for a dish or a recipe for a wine, think of its country and region of origin. What do the local residents eat and drink? Want a Pinot Noir? In Oregon, salmon is the most popular fish, and the most popular wine is Pinot Noir. Try them together.