A good wine will have beautiful facets and notes that bloom from the glass and inspire the palette as it glides across the tongue. Pair it with the wrong foods, however, and all of those lovely nuances will be destroyed – tangled in unpleasant ways with the natural chemicals and PH balance of your vintage or situated in a way that blocks delicate notes from reaching their perceptual destination. When you keep these tipsy pairings on your no-go list, your next dinner party will escape the sour taste of a wine faux pas.
1.) Eggs and Dairy: Using these ingredients in a dish gives it a tendency to coat the tongue and block components of wine from reaching the drinker’s palette. The thick consistency of the milk fat and egg yolk resists washing away with bites of food or sips of wine, unlike thinner-consistency fare.
2.) Salty foods: Wines with pronounced tannic notes pair poorly with salty foods like prepared ham because these two strong characteristics “argue” with each other in the mouth. When serving dishes are heavy in salt, tannic wines should actually be swapped out in favor of lighter, acidic choices to ensure that no clash occurs.
3.) Vinegar-laden sauces: As editor Ted Loos notes in a piece for Epicurious, vinegar sauces will diminish the fruity flavors of a Pinot Noir and provide an unpleasant finish. Vinegar and pickled dishes will “flatten” normally complex wine flavors, leaving even the most intrepid wine taster disappointed.
4.) Fish: Offerings such as smoked fish will overpower some lighter wines, while the flavor profile of more delicate fish will be lost when stacked against complex bouquets and strong note groupings.
5.) Baked Goods: While some wines actually do pair well with sweet treats, don’t reach for a brisk bubbly with these confections. The tart flavors of champagne do a disservice to even the finest icing, ruining both treats before they have a chance to impress an eager partygoer. Opt for a gentle white wine in lieu of a glass of sparkling bubbly and you’ll save dessert for everyone.
Bear in mind that none of the foods on this list are necessarily “bad” foods, nor are any of the cautioned-against wines less than delightful to vino enthusiasts. They simply don’t play well together. When you select the right dishes and sauces to accompany your favorite wines, however, your choices will elevate your fare to a true harmony on the palate.
Have you found particular wines that don’t pair well with your food? Let us know what those are so we can share with others!