How many times have you been confronted with the challenging task of selecting a wine for a special dinner?


If you had ever felt uncertain when pairing your meals with wine, you’re not alone. Choosing the perfect wine to compliment your selected protein can be tricky; especially with so many different flavors profiles to choose from. It’s not longer about meat or fish, it’s about the seasoning and the spices used in the dish which will help you determine the best pairing. Each selection should aim to find balance in order to enhance the dining experience. Therefore, understanding which flavors go with which wines will help you select best.


Citrus


Do you enjoy seasoning or marinating your proteins with citrus? Then you know how tricky it can be to pair it with wine. In this sense, you should consider that sour ingredients’ high level of acidity diminishes the acidity of the accompanying wine, making it taste softer and sweeter. Although many wines have a citrus note themselves, usually these flavors are much stronger in a dish. For example, a lemony chicken can make a citrusy Sauvignon Blanc taste flat.


When your meal has a citrus profile, we recommend picking a red wine with a marked acidity of its own. If you enjoy a good seafood pasta al limone, then a nice bottle of Valpolicella will be the perfect match. A soft oak-aged Rioja Reserva or middleweight Grenache can work surprisingly well with a chicken tagine. We also recommend pairing a Semillon with chicken in a creamy lemon sauce.


Masala


When we think about Indian cuisine we automatically relate to intensely flavored and heavily spiced dishes. Its complex flavor profile usually requires a balance with simple, well-defined wine. If you don’t know the sauce used or how spicy the dish is, we recommend a choice of Riesling, Gamay, or Grüner Veltliner. You can’t go wrong with any of these three options. Off-Dry Rieslings and Gewurztraminers can be particularly rewarding.


If your protein is cooked in spiced curries or tomato-based sauces, such as Masala or Jalfrezi, then you would probably want to drink a Sparkling Rosé, a Carignan, or a Pinot Noir. These wines will respect the spice level by matching it with fruity flavor. Cream-focused sauces, where the fats in the cream absorb and diffuse the high level of spice, match perfectly with a Lambrusco, a Carignan, or a Cabernet Franc.


BBQ


When you mention wine and BBQ in the same sentence, it may sound a little out of place. As a matter a fact, the wide range of proteins that can be prepared barbecue style presents a real challenge when choosing a wine. However, a sparkling Prosecco or a light-bodied California bubbly works well in almost any grill situation. When thinking about outdoor dining, we recommend simplicity for your wine-food pairing.  Although barbecue is widely accepted throughout US and each region has its own recipe and style, most experts agree that there are six main styles of barbecue: North Carolina, Lexington (North Carolina), South Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City and Texas.


For proteins prepared with an Eastern North-Carolina Style barbecue sauce, which is heavy on the vinegar, we recommend a sweet Riesling to mimic the acidity of the sauce. Thicker than Eastern North Carolina-style, the Lexington style sauce will be perfectly matched by a glass of Petite Sirah; whereas, something from the southern Italian region of Taurasi would work well with the sugary and spiced South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce. For a more accent sauce, such as a Memphis sauce style, a Northstar 2007 Walla Walla Merlot would work nicely. We all love the thick and sweet Kansas BBQ sauce don’t we? Next time you use this sauce in your cookout think about pairing it with an intense Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or a Quinta do Crasto.


Korean


Korean food is becoming more and more popular; however, its complexity of flavors makes is a daring challenge when finding a perfect pairing. The goal is to avoid a conflict of flavors by providing harmony. We recommend focusing on the main protein to facilitate our task. Because Korean dishes usually have an excellent mix of salty, bitter, and sweet profiles, dry to off-dry wines usually work better; particularly wines that are not overly sweet or dense. Fruity and spicy reds like Californian Zinfandel, and Spanish Garnacha or Tempranillo wines can’t go wrong.


Most people enjoy pairing kimchi, which can be particularly spicy, with a bottle of Manzanilla Sherry or Fino. As a matter a fact, Sherry is often your best companion when eating fiery or spicy Asian dishes. There are occasions in which we don’t have a main protein, but an assorted table; for these times a robust Rosé like a Marques de Riscal Rosado from Rioja, or a Chocalan Syrah Petit Verdot Rosé can accommodate to the spectrum of spiciness and sourness.



Remember, each person’s sense of taste if different. Therefore, wine and food pairings may vary from one individual to another. However, if you follow these guidelines are setting yourself up for a good start.