December 22, 2014 – Hi, friends! Leslee here – back to help you become a wine pairing pro. Whether you spend time trying to balance just the right flavors and aromas with the exact textures and palate of your food or if you happen to land on the perfect pairing out of sheer luck – either process should be one thing…fun! While most pairings are subjective, no matter what the food or wine you are selecting, there are a few hard and fast rules in the world of pairing:
- What Grows Together, Goes Together. If the dish, cheese, recipe or particular style of food comes from a particular region in the world, then the best tip is to find a wine that is from the same region to pair to it. If you’re preparing Parmesan Zucchini for Thanksgiving, look at the main flavors of the dish…Italian! Try sipping the Santa Bachelli Chianti (also Italian) for a perfect pairing!
- Counter-Balance Sweet & Spicy. Best way to pair to any dish that has intense flavors of heat and spice is to counter-balance the heat with something off-dry or sweet. Try Roasted Pepper Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing and pair with Züm Riesling – a touch of juicy sweetness to counteract the spice.
- Pair Like Flavors With Like Flavors. ALDI wine labels make it easy to understand the aromas and the flavors of the wine before you buy them. If the notes read: juicy apricot, bright pear or even raspberry, toss some of those same ingredients into your dish. The Burlwood Pinot Noir has listed tasting notes of ‘cherry & sweet fruit flavors’. This Cherry, Apricot & Jalapeño Barbeque Glazed Roasted Turkey has the same fruits and flavors of the wine for a foolproof match.
- Light with Light, Heavy with Heavy. One of the most important tips to pairing is to remember to never lose sight of your dish’s main ingredient. If the fish you’re preparing is delicate and light, the most appropriate pairing would be a lighter wine like pinot noir or pinot grigio. If you like heavier dishes like braised meats or rich blue cheeses or chocolates, pick a wine like the Zinferno Zinfandel or a cabernet to match the item’s bolder weight category.
- Sweet on Sweet. When pairing with dessert, select a wine that is just a touch sweeter than the dessert on your plate. This season at ALDI, I am lovin’ the grape Moscato! From pink, white to red, ALDI offers a number of juicy Moscatos that highlight aromatics and flavors like peach, pear, strawberry and cherry – perfect for pairing with your pumpkin pie or cheesecake sampler!
- Don’t Forget Bubbles! Sparkling wines shouldn’t be reserved just for special occasions but as a way to liven up any day of the week. From German Herres Brut Sparkling to the delicious Biasini Lambrusco, sparkling wines are a perfect answer to anything super salty or even deep-fried. Football season move over, sparkling wine is made for wings and french fries, too!
No matter the direction you choose, remember to have fun! Keep a few of these pairing tips as guidelines for the next time you’re planning a get together. In the end, remember that the ‘best pairings’ are the ones you enjoy and create yourself with friends and loved ones.
Leslee Miller is a dually certified Sommelier through the International Sommelier Guild and the Court of Master Sommeliers. She is the sole owner of wine consulting firm, Amusée, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.