Marcia Waters - Master of Wine

Food and Wine Matching

I became interested in food and wine matching for lots of different reasons. Mostly because as a wine lover I found that if the match was wrong it was the wine that tended to suffer. And it was ghastly having opened a precious bottle only to find that it was made to taste less than gorgeous because of the meal I was having it with. So although I don't subscribe to the old fashioned rules of food and wine pairing - because our foods and menus have changed so much since the 60's or 70's, when classic cook books of the time were including a wine section - I do find that a few general things to remember about what to try together and what to avoid really improves my enjoyment of the wines, and also the foods.

A few pointers:

White

Cheap white wines are rarely any good with food as they have so little personality you might as well drink lemonade - needless to say you won't find any like that on this website. When you move upscale, however, richer flavoured whites are incredibly versatile. The combination of acidity (the refreshing part of the flavour), alcohol (adds to the richness) and fruit adds up to a drink that often balances out the heaviness and oiliness of foods. When you start experimenting you'll find that certain grape varieties have flavours that also compliment particular foods, so your choice of wine starts to become the finishing touch to your meal, not just a random addition.

Try this month’s white wine suggestion:
A crisp high altitude white to remind you of the ski slopes: Domaine Wachau Riesling

A glass of fresh mountain air from Austria is wonderful with very creamy and mildly cheesy food like Jamie Oliver's butternut squash lasagne. Or even, for the retro slaves amongst you: a classic cheese fondue.

Red

The astringent tannin in reds is masked by many foods like meats, hard cheese and even bread. So what may seem hard and dry if you drink it by itself becomes fruity and easy going with the right meal. However this astringent part of the taste can turn ugly with some foods. Soft cheeses, dry, flaky fish, very salty foods, spice and sweet foods are all a disaster for red wines. If you really only like to drink reds then you must look for something very soft and ripe like a light new world Merlot or a Beaujolais. Otherwise, stick to whites with these foods.

Try this month’s red wine suggestion:
We are still in the game season so for those who love their pheasant or partridge, especially in a warming and rich pie, try Oltre by Pio Cesare from Langhe, north west Italy

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