Wine Primer: Matching wine and food

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Pairing the right wine with your food is a perennial worry for wine novitiates. But it shouldn’t be, because this is one of those areas in which there are no fixed rules. There was a time when the rules were quite clear, writes Reva K. Singh.


White wine with fish and poultry and red wine with red meat and cheese, was the norm, with sherry as an aperitif and port to finish. This is the way it was when I was growing up and the wines available in India were limited. Now wine pairing is more flexible although its essential principles can still be applied.
A good pairing of wine and food should add up to something more than the sum of its parts. An example of a pairing that fails is when a strongly flavoured food overpowers the wine and strips it of some of its complexity. When this happens a good wine is often reduced to an ordinary wine, which would be a pity, especially if it were an expensive wine.
bhindi roti-resized.jpgWhere Indian food is concerned, keep the flavour of the gravy in mind as much as the meat, chicken or fish and vegetables. The weight of the wine matters. Pair a light wine with light food and a full bodied wine with heavier. White wines especially Rieslings are a good bet with Indian dishes.
If in doubt, pick a sparkling wine; its bubbles and chilled temperature help refresh the palate. Reading books or articles in magazines like Sommelier India on food-and-wine pairing can be helpful, but make your own choices. Very few combinations clash totally. Drink the wines you like with the foods you normally eat and you’ll discover the pairing that suits your individual palate.

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