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Perfect Match At Home

Photo: Rose Gallagher

Now you know the three steps to make a great pairing, your way:

  • Balancing the relative 'weight' of wine and food
  • Making flavor bridges and connections
  • Adjusting the 'tastes' of the food

To put the technique of the Perfect Match to work, try these three dishes:

Cabernet with grilled steak: This is a classic combination. If the wine tastes tannic, try adding coarse sea salt to mellow and reduce the perception of the tannins. Build a flavor bridge by adding grilled mushrooms, which will echo the earthiness of the Cabernet.

Syrah with lamb: Lamb works well with the minty, herbal qualities often found in Syrah or Shiraz. These wines tend to be less tannic, making them a good match for meats that don't have a lot of fat. If tannins need to be tamed, add coarse salt to the lamb or choose a cut of lamb that is richer. Grilling the meat will add a charred quality that picks up on the oak and vanilla in the wine. Adding sweetness, in the form of a fruit relish or mint jelly, will mellow an overly alcoholic (or hot) wine and will form a flavor bridge with the fruity characteristics of Syrah.

Photo: Christian LaCroix
Sauvignon Blanc with fish: Both Sauvignon Blanc and most fish are on the lighter side of the scale, making them a good pair in terms of 'weight.' The wine's acidity works to cleanse the palate and cut through the natural oils of the fish (which are what can make it taste 'fishy'). Make sure to complement this acidity in the food - lemon is a good bet for this, since it acts as a flavor bridge to the wine. Too much lemon (acid) can make the wine taste 'flat'. Another option is to use the wine (as the acid) in the dish. With grilled halibut, for instance, try a mango salsa recipe, substituting Sauvignon Blanc for some or all of the vinegar.