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Laura Pearse
13 August 2017 | Laura Pearse

Beginner's Guide to Food & Wine Pairing

Food & Wine Matching | 7 rules

Have you ever been confused about which wine should go with which food?  

It can be pretty daunting when you don't know the rules.  But here's the rub....there are no rules!

The only rules we know of are to have fun with it, don't take it too seriously and enjoy experimenting.

Here are some tips we've come up with to get you started, however, pairing wine with food is a very personal thing and if you have a favourite combination, then stick with it and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

So, settle in with a glass of wine and let's get the ball rolling with Upper Reach Beginner's Guide to Food & Wine Pairing:

Rule #1 - As we pointed out in our intro, there are no rules.  Be brave, try anything and enjoy the process!

Rule # 2 - When in doubt, Sparkling wine goes with everything.  

Try it with popcorn, fish & chips at the beach, Thai curries, roast chicken and anything salty.  It's traditionally superb with seafood but is also bosom buddies with fruits, nuts and most meats.

Pairing your favourite Sparkling (which would have to be a Sparkling Chardonnay) with a freshly-baked loaf of bread will enhance the delicious yeasty, bread-like aroma which comes from the secondary fermentation in the bottle.

Rule # 3Acidic foods are great with light-bodied young whites.  

Salad dressings, tomatoes, citrusy sauces – these things can overwhelm or dull a lot of wines.

Light, tangy whites handle it best. Sauv Blanc is a good bet, but the Upper Reach's Verdelho is even better. 
A dry verdelho is such a terrific food wine, it goes with anything from fresh seafood to a pork belly. 

Rule # 4 - Yes, you can pair red wine with white meat and vice versa.  

Pinot Noir is great with roast turkey, salmon and other fatty fish.  

White wine with red meat is a bit more of a challenge, but aged white wines (and we have a few in our Museum Cellar) - or Sparkling wines - can hold their own with a steak or a leg of lamb.

The rule of thumb here is "red meat, red wine; white meat, white wine" but as we pointed out right at the beginning, this rule can be defied any time you like.

Rule # 5 - With spicy foods, some residual sugar is your friend.  

The cuisines of Thailand, India, & Mexico, for example, use lots and lots of chilli peppers in their food and breaking open your best Cabernet Sauvignon is NOT going to do your burning taste buds any favours!

Aromatic and slightly sweet whites and pinks will balance highly-spiced foods best.  

We love drinking our Black Bream White and Black Bream Pink with our favourite Thai food. Give it a try - we can vouch for it!

Rule # 6 - Tannins need fat!  

If you're a steak lover, this is the bit you've been waiting for.

But before we start cranking up the barbie, a very valid question is "what is tannin"?

It’s the astringent component in red wine that gives it structure.
This needs fat for balance, fat will soften the tannins and bring a smoother feel.

Serve a bold, beautiful red like a Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice fatty piece of Prime Rib.  Salivating already? Order the wine and then call your local butcher!

Rule # 7 - Your very own quirky, personal preferences rule the rules.  

And, as we mentioned in Rule # 2, when in doubt go for bubbles.  

You don't need a PhD, all you need is a few bottles in your cellar to get you started, somebody to cook for you and a few friends to pat you on the back when you tell them you've completed Upper Reach Beginner's Guide to Food & Wine Pairing.  



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