How to perfectly match food with wine in five easy steps

How to perfectly match food with wine in five easy steps

By Chief Winemaker, Grant Edmonds . 

We believe that a meal isn’t complete without a glass of wine. Our wines are designed to bring out the best in local cuisine from around the world. Here’s a few tips from chief winemaker Grant Edmonds on how to make sure your next food and wine match is a winner.

1. Match like with like
Put simply, light wine and light foods go well together, as do rich dishes and powerful wines. For example, serve fresh wines like Sauvignon Blanc with tangy, light dishes such as grilled fish and lemon. Don’t lock yourself into this one, but the old adage of “red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat” was developed for a reason. It works.

2. It’s all about flavour
Decide which of the primary taste sensations in a dish - sweet, salty, bitter, sour or savoury umami – dominate your recipe and then look for similar qualities in a wine to accompany it. For instance, the savoury umami flavour in a porcini mushroom risotto perfectly matches the savoury characters of mature Pinot Noir. (For the uninitiated, umami = all the bits that aren’t sweet, salty, bitter or sour).

3. The temperature of your food
Cold meat, fish and salad dishes tend to work better with more elegant wines, while hot food can take a more robust and rich style of wine. Think oysters and chilled champagne!

4. Wine age
Check the vintage (what year the grapes were grown). A mature wine will taste mellower and softer, with less bright fruit flavour than a young wine. A slow cooked beef ragu often works better with an older wine, while fresh seafood and a crunchy salad needs youth in a glass!

5. Growing region
Wine style varies across wine growing regions. New World (Southern Hemisphere) wines from hot climates such as Australia tend to taste ripe and powerful, so match with boldly flavoured food. European wines from cooler areas (such as parts of France or Germany) are lighter and more subtle in flavour, making them a better match for lighter dishes. New Zealand’s wines, from relatively cooler New World vineyards, are fresh and fruit forward, but have bright acidity and a more elegant style, making them a great match for fresh, lighter (and fortunately, often healthier) dishes.

My all-time favourite wine and food matches are:

  1. Seared tuna with black sesame seeds and a Japanese salad matched with dry Rose. The subtle flavor and fine texture of the tuna is perfectly complemented by the delicate and slightly savoury characters of the Rose.
  2. GSM (Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre) from South Australia or the southern Rhone Valley with fresh homemade pasta and a puttanesca sauce. The big, bold flavours of the puttanesca sauce require a similarly mouth-filling wine with the weight and length to hold its own.
  3. Garlic prawns accompanied by a chilled glass of Semillon (the Hawke’s Bay style rather than the more austere Hunter Valley version). The fresh citrus and dried herb characters of the Semillon cut through the richness of the prawns and provide a beautifully balanced finish.
  4. Merlot from either of the two best regions in the world for growing it – Bordeaux or Hawke’s Bay – teamed up with aged rare beef eye fillet and green peppercorn sauce, potatoes dauphinoise and fresh green beans. A simple classic match of flavours that works for both the primary fruit characters of Hawke’s Bay Merlot and the more tannic and savoury Bordeaux reds.

This article first featured on M2 Magazine 

For more how to perfectly match food and wine, see what it takes to create the perfect cheese platter.

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