The top three reasons why food and wine pairings absolutely matter
You know how hard you've been working to master the basics of food and wine pairing? Well, if you've been reading the same handful of recent articles we have, then you might be wondering if all that effort has been a big fat waste of time. The flames of this controversy have been fanned by a few renegades who opine that given the average American wine drinker's determination to consume whichever grape they damn well please, there's absolutely zero reason to make a fuss over trying to match specific wines to specific dishes. (A more worthy conversation might be to challenge old-fashioned pairing presumptions by pitching match-ups worthy of the 21st century, but we'll save that for another day.) So, should you heed these words, or blow them off and keep on pairing? We know which side we're on. Read on for three reasons why you need to keep the faith.
Wine is meant to elevate food. With a righteous wine pairing, food literally tastes better. Have you ever ordered the shrimp scampi, and felt like it just needed a li'l something to perk it up a bit? Let's say you had a flash of inspiration and ordered a brisk, zesty glass of pinot grigio? Bet you thought those little crustaceans tasted a hell of a lot better. That's because the wine's high acidity acted like the squeeze of lemon the shrimp was so desperately calling for. Had you ordered a glass of shiraz (because according to these articles, that's what you really prefer to drink), not only would your scampi have continued to taste bland, but the tannins, blowsy berry fruit and (likely) higher alcohol in the red would have obliterated any of the decent flavors the dish might have had to offer you.
Regional food and wine pairings are a history lesson worth learning. Think about it: The history of wine (from the planting of grapes to the evolution of winemaking techniques) runs parallel to the history of the world. As Europe was settled thousands of years ago, wine was involved every step of the way. Ever wonder why people gush over the pairing of grilled sausages and Alsatian riesling? Even though the winemaking region of Alsace is located in northeastern France, its rulership actually switched up four times in 75 years between France and Germany. Suddenly it's all very clear why riesling's crisp, refreshingly sweet characteristics make it the perfect foil for fatty, porky sausage, non?
The right pairing can be transformative. Fino sherry and Manchego cheese. Sauvignon blanc and goat cheese. Champagne and truffled frîtes. The list of historically orgasmic wine pairings is long and beyond worth your time to drink your way through. If you've ever experienced one of the above-named, eye-rollingly good combos, then you know whence we speak. Ever wondered what's going on when you get that sensation of bliss? Get ready to make another "O" face: The scientific term for it is "organoleptic," and it refers to the unique, multi-sensory experience that takes place in your mouth when you drink wine with food. Even if you're not into the fancy technical terms, the sheer pleasure you'll get from these minor pairing miracles is probably the most compelling reason to continue to explore the lyrical aspects inherent in every brilliant coupling of food and wine.
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