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DrinksA Beginner's Guide To Wine Pairings

A Beginner's Guide To Wine Pairings

A Beginner's Guide To Wine Pairings
By Philippine Tatler
August 29, 2019

Presented By

Solaire Resort and Casino
Elevate your dining experience with wine pairings done correctly. Here are a few tips to guide you through it.

There are some essential fundamentals to remember when pairing wine and food which are integral to a wonderful fine dining experience. It all boils down to finding that magic chemistry between flavours and textures to awaken your palate. There is an art to balancing flavour profiles (sweet, acid, salty, sour) with levels of fat and oil that sommeliers spend years mastering. The trick is to not overpower certain elements of your meal to bring out hidden characteristics. Don't worry, you do not have to be a seasoned sommelier in order to enjoy a bottle of wine. You simply need to know some of the basics. Learn some fundamentals on wine pairings and join us on this flavourful journey in search for balance and harmony:

White Wine - Chardonnay

Chardonnay wines have top notes of vanilla, butter, pineapple, lemon and apple. You will notice however that many Chardonnay wines have buttery, sugary notes with hints of caramel. Some even notice qualities of 'baked pie'! These creamier notes come from oak-ageing and these are called oaked Chardonnay. The unoaked varieties are more acidic and comparable to Sauvignon Blancs or Pinot Grigios. On average, Chardonnay wines are medium bodied, have medium acid levels, low in tannin, and are quite dry.

Food Pairing

  • For most dishes with fish and pasta that have a rich white sauce, pair it with creamy yet buttery textured wines such as a Chardonnay from the Chablis or Sonoma region as these wines have a soft touch of vanilla and wood flavour
  • Fish / Seafood in rich fatty or creamy sauces
  • Soft cheeses
  • White meats
  • Oily fish
  • Oysters

White Wine - Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigios are medium to high in acidity, dry, refreshing and fruity. Some have higher minerality which gives the wine a slightly salty taste. These wines are light to medium in body, zesty, and have a well-rounded finish.

Food Pairing

  • Think fresh – raw seafoods, fresh salads
  • Citrus flavours
  • Fruit flavours
  • White meats
  • Light seafood dishes
  • Avoid rich/creamy sauces

White Wine - Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blancs are drier, medium to high in acidity, refreshing and light, but also herbaceous. These wines are known to be more sour, and tend to have less sugar levels. These are ideal for food with citrus profiles because of the wines' crisp, fruity, and citrus flavour profiles. Expect to taste notes of green apple, peach, passion fruit, and lime.

Food Pairing 

  • Citrus flavours
  • Green herbs: mint, cilantro, rosemary, parsley
  • White meats
  • White fish
  • Clams
  • Soft cheese

Tatler Tip: The acidity of Sauvignon Blanc tends to give some drinkers an unpleasant feeling when consumed with creamy dishes / white sauces.

Red Wine - Pinot Noir

These wines are earthy in nature so you will notice flavour characteristics of mushroom, soil, tomato, berry, red-fruit, and vanilla. They are medium bodied wines that are semi-dry and velvety. These wines are easy-going and pair well with food, particularly light dishes, as well as powerful entrées.

Food Pairings

  • Poultry
  • Duck
  • Pork
  • Mushroom
  • Root crops
  • Roasts
  • Cheese
    • Comté
    • Goat cheese
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ON HER: Dress by Versus Versace from Distinqt; ON HIM: Suit by Ermenegildo Zegna, Bowtie from Hackett

Red Wine - Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross between two grapes: Cabernet Frac and Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is full bodied with high tannins and medium acidity levels.  These wines have deeper, richer flavours and are able to cut through heavy proteins and fats on the palate, leaving pleasant notes of dark berries. Noticeable characteristics are berries, black currant, plum, spices, pepper and woody tones.

Food Pairing

  • Meats that are fresh from the grill and have a smoky, charcoal characteristic
  • Dishes with strong, peppery flavours
  • Fatty foods

Tatler Tip: Avoid pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with asparagus dishes as the wine becomes more bitter in taste. The herbaceous characteristic of the dish agitates the tannins and bitterness of the wine.

Red Wine - Shiraz / Syrah

What is the difference? Syrah is what the wine is called in the Rhône Valley of France while, Shiraz is what the wine is called in Australia. They are full bodied, bold, powerful wines that are known for peppery, spicy notes with flavours of tobacco, chocolate and berry. Notice some hints of clove, liquorice, and olive too. Syrah possesses stronger tannins and deep, bold flavours which cut through heavy proteins and fats on the palate, leaving pleasant notes of dark berries or chocolate.

Food Pairing

  • Meats that are fresh from the grill and have a smoky, charcoal characteristic
  • Game meats like venison and lamb
  • Dishes with strong flavours of exotic spice blends
  • Curry
  • Strong umami dishes
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Suit by Ermenegildo Zegna, Bowtie by Hackett

Red Wine - Malbec

Notable in France and Argentina, Malbec wines are rich and full bodied. There are flavours of plum, berry, vanilla, tobacco and chocolate. They are semi-dry, have medium acid and tannin levels. These wines are not incredibly strong, so they do not have a powerful finish, on average.

Food Pairings

  • Lean red meats
  • Pork
  • Creamy sauces
  • Mushrooms
  • Cheese
    • Blue cheese
    • Mozzarella
    • Provolone
Ornellaia (Tuscany, Italy), Le Volte by Ornellaia (Tuscany, Italy), Toscana Rosso Testamatta (Tuscany, Italy), Barolo Riserva Cavalotto (Piedmonte, Italy), Massetto Ornellaia (Tuscany, Italy)
Ornellaia (Tuscany, Italy), Le Volte by Ornellaia (Tuscany, Italy), Toscana Rosso Testamatta (Tuscany, Italy), Barolo Riserva Cavalotto (Piedmonte, Italy), Massetto Ornellaia (Tuscany, Italy)

Red Wine- Bordeaux

These wines are blends. They often contain Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and several other varietals from the famed Bordeaux region of France. Notice berry notes, chocolate and herbaceous flavours are not domineering or too overpowering. Bordeaux wines are smooth but full bodied and generally have high tannins which are good for high fat content in food.

Food Pairing

  • Steak
  • High-fat dishes
  • Umami flavours
  • Cheese
  • Manchego
  • Comte
  • Pepper jack
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Anise
  • Mustard seed

Red Wine - Merlot

Merlot in general is less aggressive than a Cabernet Sauvignon. It is smoother with more balance in acidity. Merlot is a fruity wine with lots of berry flavours and medium/moderate tannins. There are hints of chocolate notes and finish more rounded on the palate with less tart flavours. The wine is semi-dry, medium to full bodied and medium acidity levels. Notice characteristics of berries, cherry, plum, chocolate and cedar. These wines are safe bets and are smooth, easy drinks.

Food Pairings

  • Chocolate
  • Pork
  • Root vegetables
  • Stews
  • Earthy foods
  • Red meats
  • Aged cheese
  • Avoid
    • Seafood
    • Leafy greens
    • Light or delicate dishes
    • Spicy foods

WINE PAIRING PER OCCASION

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Suit by Ermenegildo Zegna, Bowtie by Hackett

FOR CASUAL NIGHTS WITH FRIENDS...

Best wines to have on a casual night out would be white wines that are high in acidity, fresh, and with a light finish. Choose between Sauvignon Blanc, Champagne, Riesling, or Pinot Grigio. If you prefer less acidity, try some complex, buttery, and citrusy white wines such as Chablis, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc.

For reds, have a fruitier, light to medium-bodied wine like Montepulciano, Merlot, Tempranillo, or Pinot Noir. You could also order medium-bodied red wines with pronounced dark fruit notes and soft tannin finishes such as Valpolicella Classico, Carmenere, Merlot, and Malbec.

These selection of red and white wines awaken the senses due to their fruity characteristics, while the medium-bodied finish of the reds keep you focused.

FOR FANCY PARTIES...

For a more upbeat environment, order bubbly and fruity wines, such as: Champagne Brut, Rosé, Cava Brut, and Prosecco. Bubbly is a good choice to sustain and complement an event's festive and fun energy. For reds, order a bottle of Sangiovese, Merlot, or Pinot Noir from new world regions as they are pleasing to the palate and with pronounced dark ripen fruit flavours and soft tannins.

FOR SERIOUS CONVERSATIONS OR MEETINGS...

In these kinds of gatherings, we recommend that you go with red wines. The serious and elegant fruity notes and tannins will match the mood of the occasion. We recommend Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz from Barossa, and a Barolo from Italy. Their dark notes, hints of wood and vanilla, iron clad display of tannins, and elegant velvety finish create the perfect wine companion for business and meaningful conversations. The effect of tannins in the alcohol will give a boost to your confidence!

There are many ‘rules’ and guidelines out there, and there will always be so much more to learn. The bottom line is, the kind of wine is only as good as it tastes to you. Through trial and error, and by enjoying many bottles with great company, will you find out what blends or varietals suit your palate.

Elevate your dining experience and enjoy a selection of the finest wines in Solaire’s world-class restaurants. For more information, visit solaireresort.com.

  • Words Isabel Martel Francisco and Franz Sorilla IV
  • Photography Mon Mangila
  • Images (Additional) Unsplash
  • Styling Shauna Jay Popple Williams & Isabel Martel Francisco
  • Production Lucky Guerzon & Elaine Nuestro
  • Hair Eponine Sindayen & Johnson Estrella
  • Make-Up Eponine Sindayen & Johnson Estrella
  • Location Finestra at Solaire Resort and Casino

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DrinksA Gentleman's Guide

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