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Old 03-29-2011, 11:15 AM   #1
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Pairings - The Rules

OK, I've just read an interesting little cheat sheet in my Fine Cooking magazine. The old "rules" of red with beef and white with fish or chicken no longer apply. I'm sure most of us knew that already, but its kind of an easy way to go if you don't know much about wine.

I like this little cheat sheet. Its got a couple of basic rules that even a wine dummy like me can follow.

Pair like with like, remember that salt causes wine to taste less acidic, a sweet food will make the wine less sweet, an acidic food with make the wine taste less acidic, a fatty or oily food will make wine lighter in body, rich sauces require full bodied wine.

Anyone have any easy basics to help the rest of us wine neophytes along?

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Old 03-29-2011, 11:19 AM   #2
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I like to keep some reds chilled in the fridge. I find that it goes well with more casual meals. It remains dry, but some of the characteristics are muted a bit. I usually do this with the cheaper table wines. Every day stuff.
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:23 AM   #3
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I chill my reds too. I know its not de rigeur, but I prefer my reds cold and I figure room temperature in those draft stone castles was pretty chilly!
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:27 AM   #4
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Quote:
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I figure room temperature in those draft stone castles was pretty chilly!
That is actually right. Room temp in a wine cellar is much cooler than room temp in your house. I believe 50F is what many wine experts will say is room temp for reds.
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
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That is actually right. Room temp in a wine cellar is much cooler than room temp in your house. I believe 50F is what many wine experts will say is room temp for reds.
50 degrees F is too cold for a red wine, and even for most whites. 58-60 is my preferred red range, and 55 for whites. Of course, if it's plonk you're hoping to make drinkable, then it's "the colder the better," as the cold definitely dulls the flavor.

A really good rule of thumb is to put your red wines INTO the fridge about 20 minutes before you want to serve them, and take your white wines OUT about that same 20 minutes.
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:17 PM   #6
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Well June, I suspect I drink "plonk" when it comes to red wine. I can't tolerate any commercial red wine, so my sister makes wine for me. (I love her!)

Without meaning to, I suppose I've done just what you suggest. I generally pour a glass of wine and leave the bottle out on the counter while I cook.

When I was in Matera, they showed us a lovely little wine room where they store all their wine. (Matera is a city carved into the stone hill) It was danged chilly in there! I don't remember the exact temp, but I DO remember thinking I was drinking my red wine WAY too warm.


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Old 03-29-2011, 01:27 PM   #7
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50 degrees F is too cold for a red wine, and even for most whites. 58-60 is my preferred red range, and 55 for whites. .
I like my dry white table wine very cold. I'm not much of a sipper, and find it very thirst quenching and palate cleansing. I will drink other, more subtle, or complex, wine at the temps you mention.
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:38 PM   #8
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I agree with ChefJune regarding temp. Generally speaking, the lighter the body of the wine, the cooler the serving temperature. For example, while the ideal temp for a meaty Cab/Petite Sirah/Malbec might be 65F, a lighter bodied Pinot Noir or Gamay could be served at 60. And you wouldn't want to serve a dry, oaked Chardonnay (a fuller bodied white) at refrigerator temperature. 50-55F would be better. Sparkling wine, on the other hand, can be served at refrigerator temp of 40-45F since the bubbles will last longer if served cold.

Regarding wine pairings, there really aren't any hard and fast rules. A few that I've found:

  • When serving wine with dessert, the wine should generally be sweeter than the dessert.
  • The "weight" of the wine should be paired with the "weight" of the food. Heavier wines with heavier dishes, etc.
  • When serving a meat dish that has a sauce, pair the wine with the sauce rather than the meat. For example, Chicken Cacciatore smothered in tomato sauce works better with a red Chianti or Barbera than a white.
  • Spicy foods tend to pair better with wines that have a little sweetness (though I would argue that the best pairing for spicy food is beer ).

Of course the best suggestion is to simply drink what you like.
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:18 PM   #9
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Steve, the bubbles may last longer, but the flavor will be more pronounced if the sparkling wine is not so cold.

I'm fine with drinking inexpensive bubbly quite cold, but if I have "the good stuff" (i.e., real Champagne) I like it around 53.

In fact, when I was getting my Masters in France, one of our "Professors" was the winemaker at Charles Heidsieck and Piper Heidsieck. He prefers to drink Champagne from a white wine glass. The bubbles dissipate faster, but when you have a wine with great flavor (as I think his are) the rewards are HUGE with the white wine glass.
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:20 PM   #10
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I should have been more clear. I wad talking about storage, not drinking temp.
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