Food and wine pairing has been a highly esteemed practice for many centuries. Naturally, as any long-lasting endeavor, it has evolved into quite an art in and of itself. One general rule is to pair the dishes from one region with the wines they make there. This is a good idea since the people will want to produce things that work well together in the same place rather than have to import wine from a million miles away to make a good pairing.
This kind of pairing is one of the classic concepts, as is pairing by weight, counter-weight, acidity, dominant flavor, counter-flavor and so on. I am sure you can already figure out many delicious combinations using these basic concepts. Generally it’s consistent to use the same ideas when pairing different wines types and foods, but every once in awhile you want to be pleasantly surprised by a seemingly senseless pairing that turns out to be marvelous.
So let’s discuss some more exotic pairings, stuff that you would normally discard. Keep in mind that these are just some ideas that turn out to be spectacular, this is by no means an exhaustive list, feel free to experiment and find your own unique flavors.
- Thai food – German Riesling
Normally spicy food is quite hard to pair successfully. However this combination is hats down fabulous. The person who first thought of this combination was a genius. Thai food is spicy by nature, but this is brilliantly complimented by the sweet but intense flavor of the German Riesling.
Even very spicy food can be calmed down by a sweet wine. As a rule of thumb the spicier the dish, the higher sugar content you want in the wine. A great idea is to pair Riesling Kabinett or Spatlese wines with slightly spicy food while very spicy food will work better with sweeter wines like Auslesen.
- Chinese food – Alsatian Gewurztraminer
The Alsatian Gewurztraminer is very rich and slightly spicy. It can also work well with the already-mentioned Thai dishes, but it could also go wrong. Feel free to try it though, you never know what you discover. One other interesting pairing is Champagne combined with any Asian cuisines.
I say Champagne when I refer to sparkling wines, but since Champagne is the most common this is probably what you will buy. By now you should see that spicy foods (mostly Asian) work best with sweet, but highly acidic wines, this is why Riesling was a good choice.
- Indian cuisine – Champagne
Continuing the Asian discussion, Indian dishes are known as fiery, on the same level as Thai food. You would think that very spicy foods need some sweetness in the wine to stand it’s ground. If you do then you are on your way to finding yet another fantastic combination.
Try to find dry Champagne (or off-dry) or slightly sweet sparkling Italian wines, off-dry Prosecco and Moscato d’Asti come to mind. Of course another option is possible with the already familiar Riesling.
- Japanese food – Champagne
Yet again Champagne proves to be the champion. Usually one would pair sushi and sashimi with sake, sometimes lager beers. However I love pairing a crisp Champagne with sushi or sashimi. There’s something special in combining the luxury from the fish with the acidic sparkling wine.
However don’t feel limited to sparkling wines. Most still wines will work just as well, but be careful so that they are fresh and crisp, otherwise the food will feel too dominant over the wine, Chardonnay is a good example.
- Mexican food – Lager Beer
If you try the whites that work so well with Asian cuisine you will find that Mexican food proves to be more stubborn. With Mexican food it is very hard to find a perfect match, as well as with spicy Latino dishes.
For this reason the typical chain of thought goes to lager beer. Dos Equis and Tecate are some good matches. As far as wines go only less spicy dishes can be really be complimented by a rich and fruity red such as Zinfandel.
So keep in mind the thinking behind these pairings. Spicy food works with high concentrations of sugar. Feel free to enjoy these combinations and have fun experimenting with your own, unique pairings.
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