Classic and Untraditional Wine Pairings

Classic Wine Pairings Never Go Out of Style

Did you know there’s an entire year full of wine days to celebrate? Wine Expert, Barb Wild, of Good Wine Gal, has the whole calendar listed, should you wish to celebrate all the wine days of the year. Around Spud, one of our favourites is Global Wine Day on February 18 and we might just celebrate with a classic wine pairing.

Check out all the World Wine Days

For Global Wine Day, we’re going to look at a couple of classic and not so classic wine pairings. Why not leave a comment below as to your favourite wine and food pairing? 

There are a few broad rules for pairing wine and food.

  • Wine should be sweeter than your food
  • Wine should be more acidic than your food
  • Match wine with your sauce, rather than the protein
  • Red wines work with red meat and white wines with lighter meat (generally)
  • Pair congruently – wine and food share flavour compounds
  • Pair complimentary – wine and food don’t share flavour compounds but complement each other
  • Drink what you enjoy and explore, explore, explore
  • Rules were made to be broken

In the past, you couldn’t order ingredients from all over the world, so people drank and ate what was in their backyard. Both food and wine express the soil, climate, and topography from where they are grown and are therefore naturally fit together. Italian Sangiovese is perfect with Italian tomato-based dishes, and French Chablis with oysters. With our world economy, much has changed, and now you can drink and eat food from all corners of the world, and pairings can get tricky.

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Classic Wine Pairing

Worldly Riesling

Riesling has been overlooked as in the not-so-distant past; our liquor store shelves were full of overly sweet examples that lacked the acidity required to make them palatable. Now we’ve got many great styles from Austria, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Washington State, and some stellar bottles from right here in Canada.

Steely, dry Rieslings are full of vibrant acidity and minerality and are wonderful with foods with green, herbaceous flavours, such as grilled fish with lime and salads. Richer, but still dry Riesling is wonderful with more luscious sauces, and moderately sweet Rieslings can balance out the fieriness of chiles in Thai and Indian Food. Sweeter Rieslings can take on cured meats and cheese for a perfect ending to a meal.

Spanish Rioja

In Spain’s Rioja, a wine region in the central north of Spain, you’ll find both red and white grapes, but the dominant grape is Tempranillo, known to make full-bodied reds. If we’re looking at what grows together goes together rule, roast pork, chorizo sausage, and aged Manchego cheese work well. Paella, Moroccan tagines, and older Riojas get very cozy when they’re alongside roast game birds.

Classic Wine Pairing

New and Old-World Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is associated with the Burgundy region of France, being the only red allowed to grow there, but like Riesling, it has traveled the world and can now be found expressing itself in Australia, New Zealand, the US, South Africa, here in Canada, and there are wonderful German Pinot Noirs, where the grape is called Spatburgunder. Pinot Noir thrives in cooler climates and the grapes produce a lightly coloured, medium-bodied wine, although styles can range from very light to rich and fuller-bodied.

Light Pinots are great with ham and pates, some of the slightly sweeter fruity bottles work well with Chinese Dishes such are Hoisin Duck and Char Siu Pork and the richer wines pair best with lamb, steak, and venison. A classic wine pairing with pinot noir is often duck. 

Classic Cabernet

This worldly red is one of the most recognized grapes, calling Bordeaux, France home, but also showing off its ability to adapt to the US, Chile, Australia, South Africa, Italy, and Spain. The resulting wines are varied, where cooler vintages and regions will exhibit vegetal flavours and warmer vintages and regions blackberries and jam. When just the right balance is met the wine is divine with aromas of blackcurrant, and flavours of black cherry and plum, with other flavour compounds depending on the terroir and winemaking style, defining each bottle.  

What do we love with Cabernet? A classic wine pairing is a steak, but a great burger, beef short ribs, roast or grilled lamb, a big juicy portobello mushroom, or cheese such as aged cheddar of gouda is also superb tablemates.

With so many choices out there, there’s nothing to stop you from celebrating Global Wine Day every day with a different wine and a different dish. Drink responsibly, perhaps less, but better, wine, and when given the choice, always try something new and never stop exploring.

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More on food and wine pairing with wine educator, DJ Kearney.

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