Top Five Foods That Just Won’t Pair Easily With Wine
• Blue cheese
• Brussels sprouts
The key thing might be the world easily. Anything is doable, but some things just flow, and some don’t.
Why? …When you pair a wine you’re saying “And”, Peanut Butter AND Jelly, George AND Gracie. They compilment each other. They finish each others sentences.
White wine and shrimp linguine. Red wine, and bolognese… They dance.
Artichokes for instance contains cynarine. All foods contains chemicals. Chemicals cause reactions with one another. Try this; take a sip of water, now take your first bite of artichoke. Take another sip of water. The water suddenly tastes sweet. Awesome! Dancing!
But, not awesome with wine. Cynarine suppresses your tastebuds from detecting sweetness which conversly make things seem sweet. But it’s also suppressing acidity and the presence of tannin among other things; so now your wine tastes completely flat and hollow side by side. Not dancing.
Takeaway: Avoid a 1:1 wine pairing with artichokes. It’s not going to work.
Asparagus contains organosulfur compounds, the same ones that make brussels sprouts yummy. However, sulfer in wine is a fault. So getting these things in the same room together (your mouth) you’re introducing discord. Fine enough with some distance but again, not a 1:1 pairing.
Blue cheese. …But… its cheese you say!
Yes… it is. Cheese that tastes like stinky socks. The issue here is balance. You can go up against blue cheese with port maybe, but it’s an arms race. If you must, think about going with a mild blue cheese (pew-pew vs mortars) to meet up with a simple, fruity, not heavily structured wine. Lots of tannin will work against you here, be cool. Point is, assuming you have a range of cheeses out for guests that must match the wine, be cautious of introducing a strong blue cheese that will get obnoxious and try to take over.
Brussel sprouts… See asparagus and add an element of vegetal earth. To be fair, brussel sprouts will probably not be a main course, and rarely an appetizer or hors d’oeuvres, though you can. Similar to blue cheese brussel sprouts show up with a unique swagger that needs to be met head on by the wine, something with tannin. Brussel sprouts are a fantastic Fall food (less bitter in a Fall harvest) and how they are prepared makes a big difference, a citric slaw vs baked with honey and bacon… or spicy chipotle sauce means matching a deep to orange white vs a red… But the least prepared, the less caramelized, the less slathered, the more bitterness there is to content with. So, tricky to do a direct pairing with wine.
Chocolate. Controversial. But just because some thing are great, it doesn’t mean they will be great together. Some chocolates have fattiness and sweetness that will just not combine well with wine. A sip of wine may wash away the sweetness and fattiness leaving just tannin (chocolate has tannin too.) If the fattiness wins then your mouth is coated and what makes the wine delicious cannot land and stay on your tongue. If you have a middle ground, where now you have chocolate tannins and wine tannins they may not play well together. If you must, best to err toward residual sugars in the wine (dry wine will seem bitter on the tongue.) Milk chocolate works somewhat, moslty because there’s just less chocolate per volume. In general, port and sweet wines pairing will work best. Dark chocolate works with port, again sweetness, and high aromatics, but, we’re into the world of port. Pairing up a proper Petite Sirah, Zin, or Charonnay is trickier than it sounds.
Photo by Christine Siracusa on Unsplash