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The Secrets to Pairing Wine with Food

Aug 22, 2019
Italian Food

Pairing wine with food requires an understanding of wines and how the varied tastes and aromas would serve to complement the ingredients in a meal. Our knowledge of wines and food pairing is influenced by our experience and seasoned tastes of both wine and Italian cuisine. While this is not a strict guide, we hope that you’ll be able to understand the complexities of choosing the right wine for your meal to ensure each bite or each sip takes you on a sensory adventure through the streets of Italy!

While there are some traditional and classic pairings, for those feeling a little adventurous, here are some unconventional matches that you can experience when you dine at AQUA Forte.

Our wide selection of premium wines can be enjoyed by the glass, thanks to a special innovative technology that allows us to pour the wine out of the bottle without opening it. So, you can try different wines with different dishes, without ordering the full bottle, allowing the perfect pairing of wine with food.

Basic Of Pairing Wine With Food

Although wine and food pairing is highly personal and subjective, due to the different level of sensitivity each person has to different tastes, there are some basic principles that can be followed to successfully match wine with food. Food that is consumed with wine has an effect on the way wine tastes and wine consumed with food can have an effect on the food itself, although more limited. The purpose of wine and food pairing is to take advantage of these effects and ideally enhance both the taste of the food and the wine for a more enjoyable and complete culinary experience.

In addition, this knowledge will prevent you from having a negative or unpleasant experience of otherwise good wine, simply because it was paired with the wrong food.

In simple terms there are two components in food; sweetness & umami – that tend to make wines taste “harder” (bitter, more acidic & astringent, less sweet and less fruity), and two components; salt and acid that tend to make wines taste “softer” (less bitter & astringent, less acidic, sweeter and more fruity).

Because people vary in their sensitivities and preferences, there is no simple answer to the questions about which wines go best with which dishes, however, there are well-established rules based on the interactions between wine and food that can definitely help:

Sugar: dishes high in sugar should be paired with a wine that has at least as much sweetness, otherwise the wine will taste bitter and more acidic.

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Umami: dishes high in umami should be paired with wines that are more fruity than tannic, as the umami emphasizes the bitterness of tannins.

Bitterness: bitterness in food will emphasize the bitterness in wine, so a white wine or low tannin red wine would be the best pairing.

Spice: dishes made using chili should be paired with white wines or low tannins reds, both with low alcohol, as both features will be emphasized by heat. Also, fruitiness and sweetness can be reduced by these foods, so wines with higher levels of these qualities could be a good pair too.

Salt and Acid: both of these are usually very wine-friendly and easier to pair. High acid foods, however, should be matched with high acid wines, otherwise, the wines will taste soft and flabby. Salt will help in softening the hard components in wine, so it can be paired with full-bodied, high tannic or high acidic wines and those will taste softer and fruitier.

AQUA Forte Wine Pairing Suggestions

These are some of the wine paring suggestions that you could try at AQUA Forte. The suggestions are based on some lesser known wines and less conventional pairing that our customers can try in order to experience something new or different. Come and visit us to try even more pairings and ask our Head Chef Roberto for the right wine for each dish on the menu.

Trento DOC and Franciacorta DOC

Italian Classic Method (Méthode Champenoise) sparkling wines, Trento DOC and Franciacorta DOC (as in general for Champagnes) are perfect with salty and fatty dishes, due to their natural acidity and minerality that help cut through the fat and clean your palate, leaving a refreshing sensation; similar in pairing to Prosecco. However, differently than Prosecco, their medium to full body and the aromas coming from maturation and aging on the yeast can make these wines perfect for a full meal experience and pair with most pasta and white meat dishes, especially pork. Try them with a starter of cold cuts and cheeses or Vitello Tonnato followed by a main of Spaghetti Carbonara or Porchetta for a perfect match. Those are wines for special occasions or simply to treat yourself and make any occasion special!

Attems Chardonnay

For people used to the famous Chardonnays of France, this wine from the Friuli region could be comparable to ones coming from the Chablis area, due to the cooler climate and lighter use of oak during maturation. The creamy and buttery finish (so typical of many new world chardonnays) here is less pronounced, leaving this wine pleasantly fresh and young. Vibrant and well balanced on the palate, it boasts full flavours and superb elegance, with a well-balanced, very crisp finish. For a perfect and balanced match that can enhance the meal flavour and the wine, try it with the buttery and delicate rabbit sauce of the “Tagliatelle al ragu di coniglio” or with the rich and smoky flavour of the “Polpo alla barese” (octopus with potatoes and olives).

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Alois Lageder Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer is a very interesting wine, often overlooked because it is typically off-dry or sweet. However as per pairing principles we discussed, a wine with some sweetness can pair very well with many types of foods, providing interesting and unexpected combinations. In Italy, gewürztraminer is typically not as sweet as some of the German ones and it maintains some acidity and freshness. Due to its medium to full body it can match with white meat as well as with fish and pasta and accompany with a full meal. For the perfect matches, try these two pairings. With “carpaccio di tonno”, as the orange marinade used for the tuna fish will balance and complement the sweetness of the wine. With the “Flan di zucca al gorgonzola”, the sugar level of the wine will sustain the sweet flavour of the pumpkin and complement amazingly with the rich umami flavour of the gorgonzola cheese.

Baglio del Sole Nero d’Avola

Nero d’Avola can be comparable to Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (Shiraz) for people who are not familiar with this wine. Therefore, as for those wines, it has a full body and spicy nose, but unlike those wines, tannins and acid levels are not as pronounced, making this wine a rounder, softer alternative to the classic full body wines of the world. Because of its structure, it is a perfect match with meaty pasta or main courses, although it also matches very well with rich vegetarian dishes thanks to its acidity, tannins and herbal aromas. For a perfect match try it with Ravioli all Norma (a recipe originating from Sicily) or Parmigiana di melanzane (also sharing some of the typical Sicilian flavours). For a less obvious match try it with Lasagna; this wine will beautifully match with the creamy texture of the buttery meat sauce mixed with béchamel.

Poesie Recioto di Soave and Recioto della Valpolicella

Sweet food should be paired only with wines with same or higher level of sweetness, as a dry wine would taste more acid and bitter and some of the tannic wines could be unpleasant combined with sugary foods. That is why sweet wines should always be paired with desserts. We propose two different type of Recioto, a very famous Italian sweet wine. Both are made by a late harvest of the grapes, which in this way have time to overripe on the vine and increase their level of sugar. One is made with Garganega white grape (same as Soave dry white wine) and the other one is made with Corvina and Rondinella black grapes (same as the famous Valpolicella dry red wine). Both have a distinct sweet and smooth palate, but they are not excessively sweet or sticky and maintain some minerality and acidity due to the cooler climate of northern Italy. The white Recioto will pair perfectly with the delicate Pannacotta or with the homemade ice-creams, while the red one will beautifully match with the trio of chocolate dessert and the classic tiramisu.

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