Monday, February 4, 2013

Wine Tip of the Week - My Series on Food Pairing Dos and Don'ts

Wine and food pairing can be a complex endeavor that professional Sommeliers tackle as part of their chosen career.  However, armed with a few easy to remember dos and don'ts, you can become your own Sommelier. In my Wine Tip of the Week Food Pairing series, I will identify key rules that will help (the dos) and a few things that will hurt (the don'ts) your success in pairing wine with food.

This week's tip is my favorite, and probably the most well known - even if not everyone knows why.  Simply put - big red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel with red meat. Part of the "big" in a big red wine are the Tannins. Tannins cause the dry mouth feel after tasting wine, and are one of the reasons some wines need to be aged in order to soften the tannins. Tannins in a wine will be softened when combined with protein and fat, so the pairing of a steak with a big red wine will actually enhance the wine, plus the wine can help accentuate the taste of a good char on your steak - also improving your enjoyment of the steak. This type of pairing is the ultimate payoff - where both the food and the wine are enhanced by pairing the two. To make sure you get the most out of both - your steak should be medium rare. Any more done and the proteins in the meat are impacted, any more rare and the fat in the steak isn't cooked enough to get the desired affect. Still a tasty pair no matter how your steak is cooked, but I believe medium rare is the ultimate.
Steak Au Poivre
Remember - it is both protein and fat that impact the tannins, so if your favorite steak cut is leaner like a Filet Mignon - a "less big" wine would be a better match, while a New York Strip or another cut with more fat can team up with a monster red wine.  To further enhance a big red wine - try a pepper crusted steak or an Au Poivre sauce. The bitterness of the black pepper will also react favorably with the tannins in the wine.


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