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Pairing Tips

What are "flavor bridges"?
This is simply a connection between flavors in the wine and flavors in the food. For instance, a tart, ‘grapefruity’ Sauvignon Blanc pairs nicely with a crisp salad sprinkled with grapefruit sections. A full-bodied Pinot Noir with hints of plum could be paired with pork loin and a plum reduction sauce. Anyone can discover flavors in a wine. You can do this by tasting and savoring the aromas, reading the label on the bottle or checking the winery’s tasting notes online.

You can also find other connections between wine and food. A Chardonnay with aromas of pear works well with a simple pear salad, but pears also go well with ginger. So choosing a recipe that incorporates ginger – a halibut with ginger butter, for instance – is another option. By adding a bit of the Chardonnay to the ginger butter you’ll be serving, you will go one step further towards balancing the food and wine.

How are pairing suggestions determined in the app?
When food and wine taste good together, it means that the flavors, tastes and textures are in balance. They can be similar — imagine a coffee-rubbed steak with a lush Cabernet that has some chocolate and coffee notes — or they can be quite different, such as a rich, tomato-caper cream sauce with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. The Cabernet complements the steak, while the Sauvignon Blanc cuts through the richness of the cream sauce. In both cases, the pairing works!

Knowing the basics of food and wine pairing, and how to make simple modifications to balance tastes, will make all the difference in the enjoyment of a meal. Learning how to do this is what Pair It! is all about. Every pairing suggestion includes the following criteria to match food and wine together:

  • Relative weights: Ensuring that neither the food nor the wine overpowers the other.
  • Flavor bridges: Choosing flavors in your food that complement or mirror those present in the wine.
  • Elements of taste: Matching a wine with the food and its accompaniments that best enhance its taste.

It’s all about perception.

When you eat food and drink wine with it, you are changing the way you perceive one in the presence of the other. PairIt! helps you make the right choices.

Will these pairings work with all wines of the same varietal?
All wines are not created equal. Wines differ greatly, even among the same varietal. We've taken special care to suggest food pairings that go well with most wines of each varietal. Pair It! will help you make a good pairing GREAT with ideas on how to balance your meal with your wine.

Why is wine acidity important in food pairings?
We use acids in cooking all the time: a squeeze of lemon, a splash of vinegar, fresh chopped tomato, olives and lots of other items we use to flavor food. When a food has acidity, it makes the wine taste less tart. If the wine is a low-acid wine, then it ends up tasting flat or one-dimensional. But if the wine has plenty of acidity, then it balances well and actually complements the food with its crispness. When you’re having something rich and creamy, then a crisp wine tastes clean and refreshing.

How does adding something SWEET affect how a wine tastes?
Sweet will diminish the apparent sweetness of the wine, and diminish the perception of alcohol. Sweet will also cause the wine to taste more tart and tannic. A few of the many sweet things you can add are sugar, honey, and ripe fruit.

How does adding something SOUR affect how a wine tastes?
Sour will enhance the sweetness of the wine, and its perceived tannins. Sour will also cause the wine to taste less tart and less alcoholic. A few of the many sour things you can add are lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and tart apples.

How does adding something SALTY to food affect how wine tastes?
Salt magnifies most flavors and tastes. Salt will also cause the wine to taste less tannic and more alcoholic. A few of the many salty things you can add are salt, anchovies, and soy sauce.

How does adding something BITTER to food affect how wine tastes?
Bitter will diminish the sweetness of the wine, and the perceived tannins. Bitter will also make the wine taste more tart and more alcoholic. A few of the many bitter things you can add are walnuts, ground coffee and bitter chocolate.

How does adding something SPICY HOT to food affect how wine tastes?
Spicy hot will diminish the sweetness of the wine. Spicy hot will also cause the wine to taste more tart, more tannic, and more alcoholic. A few of the many spicy hot things you can add are cayenne, chilies, and hot sauce.

How does adding something with UMAMI to food affect how wine tastes?
Umami will enhance the sweetness of the wine, and the perceived tannins. Umami will also cause the wine to taste less tart (or acidic) and less alcoholic. A few of the many things with umami you can add are shiitake mushrooms, prosciutto, and aged parmesan cheese. Both salt and umami tend to bring out the tastes and flavors in foods which is why we use them so extensively in cooking.

What is Umami?
It is a mouth-watering, savory sensation that is present in many aged and fermented foods. Consider the taste of prosciutto or aged parmesan cheese to give you an idea. Umami is present in many of the foods we eat but in higher concentrations in mushrooms, tomatoes, lobster and other “rich” foods. Technically, it is the presence of “glutamate” (the natural form of MSG) in foods. Your tongue reacts to it just like it does to salt, sweet, sour, etc.

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