Food and Wine or Wine and Food – Which is It?

With the colder weather and the holiday season almost upon us (I can’t believe its November!), many of us will turn our thoughts towards fancy dinners. So I thought it might be interesting to blog on an age old question – do you pick your wine first, the plan your meal around it, or come up with the menu and then pick the wines?

Well, the short answer — in my opinion — is either works. But I have learned a few things over the years that might be helpful, including a big myth I can ‘de-bunk’!

Personally, I don’t worry too much about matching food and wine. And when I do think about it, common sense usually prevails, particularly around how flavours may clash with each other.

If I have a delicately flavoured dish I’m making, for example, I’m not going to serve a big, tannic red wine that will completely overwhelm it. If I am barbecuing or serving a rich stew, then that kind of wine might make sense.

Same approach to a special wine — if it is older, with less fruit, then there is no point in serving a very spicy dish if I want to show the wine off.

But there are a couple of things I won’t do. Like serving a sweet wine that is sweeter than the dessert (as you won’t taste the dessert). Or serving oaked wines (red or white) with creamy cheeses. You will just get this metallic taste in your mouth.

Finally, a definite myth – the one about ‘food wines’. A wine should taste good on its own to start with. If food is needed, that will just ‘hide’ the taste of the wine. So don’t go for the old ‘this wine really needs food to shine” line.

Food and wine, wine and food – it’s up to you. I think you can enjoy things either way by using just a little common sense.


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One Response to “Food and Wine or Wine and Food – Which is It?”

  1. The Wine DOC(G) Says:

    Good topic! I have an interesting perspective on this. My wife and I recently returned from a few weeks in Italy and it served to change my thinking a bit about this topic. I talked to a winemaker there about breakfast wine! If your perspective is a culture that drinks wine every day with virtually every meal, you start to think about which wines make sense for lunch… and breakfast. This might have you looking at lower alcohol, less fruity, lighter reds – like many dolcetto’s I tasted in Italy. New U.S. slogan (?): Dolcetto for the Breakfast of Champions!

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