Thursday, February 11, 2010

Flavour Interaction - Wine and Food

This was the main theme of a Oenology class that I attended this afternoon. It is a subject of great interest to a class of future chefs and/or managers as well as all those interested in the art of “marrying” meals to drinks.

That said, and with due permission from the head of the course, Sommelier Bruno Antunes (recently nominated the best Sommelier 2010, Portugal, an award also received in the previous year), I am publishing here some key aspects to bear in mind when combining a wine with a certain dish.

Acid Wines
Acidity is an important element in the ingredient's harmony, as it:

- it penetrates the structure of the ingredients or sauces, refreshing its flavour
- it connects to acid flavours such as vinaigrettes, citrus, tomatoes or capers
- attenuates the fat of fried or sautéed ingredients
- it downsizes the flavour of fat fish (salmon or sardine) and it highlights seafood

Sweet Wines
Wines with a reasonable degree of sweetness present themselves as a good companions to:

- food moderately spicy
- fruits and nuts-based sauces
salty ingredients, or making the connection between Asian cuisine's sugary flavours
- strong cheese (like blue cheese) as a contrasting element

Bitter WinesAlthough it might contradictory, a wine's bitterness is not necessarily unpleasant.

- bitterness can add balance, character and components of an attractive flavour
- it best connects with dishes of similar flavour (grilled)
- they connect, through its bitterness, dishes with broccoli, rucula and peppers

Alcohol and Wine
Two important elements that influence the basic flavours.

- the preparation of dishes with wines of high alcohol gives to delicacies some wood
when too strong, it is advisable to harmonise the wine with delicacies of the same profile
the alcohol's perception might be amplified with condiment or salt-based dishes

Salty Wines
- salt can neutralize or attenuate sweetness
- salt highlights alcohol and tannins
- the wine's bitterness neutralizes its saltness

Salty dishes usually combine well with sparkled wine or others with the same acidity.
Lightly salt-based dishes can also be combined with rosé.

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