When food pairing goes wrong


 We often speak about wine and food pairing and how well a wine can complement a meal. While this is often the case there is however instances where wine and food do not mix well. This food need extra care when pairing with  wine:


1. Chocolate

 Tasting chocolate adds a few sensations to your palate including textured chocolate tannin, fattiness, sweetness, and an earthy flavour. When you finish this taste with a dry red wine, the wine scrapes the fattiness and sweetness from your palate leaving harsh tannins and a sour note of wine. To make matters worse, the wine’s initial fruit flavours of blackberry or cherry are lost in the overpowering flavour of chocolate.


The good news is that there are wines that are better suited to have with chocolate such as Late Bottled Vintage Port, Brachetto d’Acqui, Recioto della Valpolicella, Grenache or Bual Madeira


2. Asparagus

 The issue with asparagus is the presence sulphur and additional green herbaceous quality caused by the heightened chlorophyll in the vegetable. With most green vegetables you can usually just get away with a zesty white wine like Sauvignon Blanc, but in the case of asparagus this might not work.


Wines that do Pair With Asparagus: A surprising pairing with asparagus is slightly chilled dry Sherry such as Fino, Oloroso or Manzanilla Sherry.


3. Blue Cheese

While most cheeses pair easily with most wines, blue cheese and other blue-veined cheeses are difficult. This is most likely because the blue cheese has a high presence of a particularly odiferous aroma compound called alkan-2-ones which is also found in sphagnum swamp moss. Ultimately, the stinky perfume of blue cheese overpowers most dry wines.

 A better fitting pairing for this cheese is Port Wine. You need an equally powerful sweet wine to counter balance blue cheese. In this pairing, the earthy flavor of the cheese is cancelled out by the acidity of the wine and the creaminess of the cheese locks together with the sweetness of the wine creating a perfect pairing. Other great choices would be a bold, high alcohol Zinfandel, Shiraz or perhaps a sweet white dessert wine









4. Sushi

 The combination of raw fish, seaweed and sesame are difficult pairing buddies with most common wines. In the case of fish, a study in Japan (of all places) was conducted to understand why fish and red wine don’t match. The results of the test indicated that the tiny amounts of iron in red wine would latch on to the fish oils and stick to the taster’s palates causing a fishy metallic aftertaste.


 To acompany sushi meals, choose a Bone Dry White Wine such as Grüner Veltliner from Austria, Muscadet or Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France, Northern Italian Pinot Blanc from Alto Adige in the Alps.


5. Soy Sauce

The flavor of soy sauce comes from fermented soy beans, wheat and salt. The aromatics of soy are reminiscent of wheat berries and the flavor has a bold salty-sour umami flavor. The challenge with this pairing is the fermented sour taste of soy with a not-so-sour wine. It can make make the wine taste flabby. Fortunately, there are some unique benefits to the saltiness of soy sauce that can actually reduce the bitter taste of tannin in some wine.

There are basically 2 directions you can go when pairing wine with soy sauce: complementary or congruent.

Moscato or Brachetto d’Acqui. These wines act like plum sauce or mirin would and create a teriyaki-like flavour when paired with soy dishes or go for  Umami wines such as  Carignan-based wines from Languedoc-Roussillon such as Faugères; Southern Rhône red blends made with Grenache and Carignan; Cannonau (a.k.a. Grenache) from Sardegna; or Southern Italian Aglianico de Vulture from Basilicata and Gaglioppo from Calabria.





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