Sun | Oct 21, 2018

The art of pairing wine with food

Published:Wednesday | December 17, 2014 | 12:00 AMBarbara Ellington
CPJ Banfi Chianti Classico
CPJ Josh Chardonnay
CPJ Yellowtail Shiraz

The traditional wine and food pairing mantra that dictated, 'white wine with fish and red wine with meat' is, thankfully, well behind us. Today's consumer is under no pressure to slavishly follow wine and food pairing rules. Instead, the call is for foodies to drink the wine that they like with the food that they like to eat.

In the world of cuisine, both wine and food have changed, and although the comfort of personal taste or preference is the pairing 'safe zone', the idea is to explore the fascinating world of wine and food pairings. In that regard, there are certain guidelines which will definitely enrich this experience and make for interesting gastronomic episodes, wonderful memories and great conversation whenever food and wine are discussed. (

Those views are shared by one local wine expert, who also told Hospitality Jamaica that wines tell a story once they connect with the palate and this can either be a matching or contrasting taste.

With the proliferation of distributors of wines from traditional and non-traditional vineyards, and a number of wine bars springing up in the island, the scope for learning is broadening. One great place to learn is at the regular Chaine des Rotisseurs five and six-course dinners, but if you are not fortunate to get an invitation to these exclusive events, the helpful and knowledgeable wait staff of the nation's finest eateries and more than willing to help the novices in this area.

"The idea is for one to enhance the other, but it can also depend on the person's taste - what do you like or what is your preference," the expert said when asked why people pair wine with food. It was further explained that for dessert lovers, the wine chosen should be as sweet as, or sweeter than the dessert. "So it would not be a good idea to pair a rich, creamy dessert with an acidic wine."

The point was also made that a tannic wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a big Italian Brunello pairs really well with meat. On the other hand, although it is rather challenging to pair savoury and sweet, nevertheless, the experts give pairings such as Sauternes and foie gras and vintage port and Stilton cheese 'classic' pairing status.

By the same token, Hospitality Jamaica has learnt that an entree such as a filet mignon definitely pairs well with a big, bold red, while a roast chicken for the Christmas dinner calls for a good white burgundy or even a Chablis. If duck is being served, consider a Pinot Noir, maybe from Washington State or Oregon.

Early Beginnings

But how did all this fascination with wine start? discloses that wine and cheese pairings have evolved through generations.

"Records dating back hundreds of years indicate that wine and cheese from the same locations have been served together for generations. The website states further that historians have noted an obvious correlation between the geographical origins of wines and cheese when it comes to historical pairings, one that is still observed.

"Many cheese and wine varietals have grown up together, leading to complementary regional recipes for wine, cheese and other local foods and drinks. Among regional pairings, European wine and cheese pairings are quite common. The French Brie region, for instance, has long been noted for its Brie cheese production, as well as many tannic wine varietals such as Beaujolais. This is a classic wine and cheese pairing."

The information also states that, "Italy, another major wine and cheese producer, boasts a rich wine and cheese pairing history with strong ties to regionalism. For instance, Italian Asiago cheese is often recommended alongside Italian Chianti or Brunello, which originated near the same region.

In addition to regional customs, some commonly held wisdom about pairing wine and cheese seems rooted in historical anecdotes and traditional adages, especially from around the time of the early British wine merchants.

For example, the adage 'white wine with fish and red wine with meat' is a traditional piece of wisdom based on the idea of matching the richness or body of a wine with the heaviness of a given food. This is a commonly held rule of thumb, though the art of food and wine pairing has grown far more sophisticated over the years."

You can visit the website to learn more of this fascinating topic.

Whether you are a novice or a connoisseur, the idea is to have a great time exploring the wonderful world of wines this Christmas season and beyond.