Alcohol and Food Pairing
For most of us, there is nothing more satisfying than a delicious drink or a sumptuous meal. Unfortunately, we often lack the knowledge on how to pair them with each other … And when you get to the basics, there is no better way to take your meal from delicious to SUPER DELICIOUS than to add the right drink (or vice versa).
While food and drinks pairing is with no doubt very personal, it is actually simpler than you think… In fact, a lot of the time – you may not even realise you’re doing it automatically!
If you don’t consciously pair your food and beverages, you’re missing out on even more deliciousness. Plus, more often than not, we’re consuming them at the same time so it would make sense to strategically pair the two.
And here’s why…
The right drink can enhance a dining experience and the wrong drink can ruin an entire meal. For some of us, it may seem a little odd to pair a specific drink with something to eat. But here’s an example: Let’s say you have a chocolate brownie. It’s deep and chocolaty and quite sweet. You could put a scoop of ice cream on it, or a drizzle of hot fudge. You could add some berries, or a raspberry sauce, or a little salted caramel, or quite a few other delicious things – this would make the brownie even MORE delicious. But would you add a spicy pesto or some rich gravy? Probably not as the flavours simply don’t complement one another. And it’s exactly the same principle when it comes to pairing drinks and food.
Wine and food have always gone well together and it is becoming more popular to explore the combinations of beer and cocktails with different dishes.
There are a few items which pair together quite naturally… such a red wine and steak, white wine and seafood… but there is actually far bigger world of food pairing out there.
Here are some GREAT examples of SUPERB food and drink pairings:
Champagne and oysters
The light, bubbly and subtly-sweet taste of champagne balances out the saltiness of an oyster.
White wine and fish
Fish, among most types of seafood, is such a delicate flavour. You need to drink something that is not going to overwhelm the flavour of the fish. White wine is a good choice as it complements, rather than overwhelms, the delicate flavour. White wine will also work well as an ingredient in seafood pasta dishes (and of course, to drink with the pasta dish too)!
Red wine and red meat
Red wine is a strong, bold flavour that pairs well with foods that have robust flavours – such as beef steak, roast lamb or a hearty ox-tail stew.
Red wine is also a delicious accompaniment to cheese!
Pairing your food with Beer
Like wine and food pairings, the common practice is to match the strength of a dish with the strength of a beer. However, you still want to have some contrast in both elements. For example, a beer with some bitterness will nicely offset a sweet dish…
Or a beer with something salty will accentuate the taste of the beer.
Cocktails and Food
Cocktails and food have always gone hand in hand, but lately, the pair is becoming even more popular. By matching the two, you can liven up a dinner party and it’s a good excuse to have some food when consuming the rather strong cocktails. It’s important to remember that most of the time, the main flavours of the cocktail normally comes from the mixers, not the spirits. Keep this in mind when you’re pairing. Make sure the mixers in the cocktail pair well with key ingredients in the food. For example, the lemon essence in a margarita goes well with fresh seafood, like raw oysters or calamari.
Drinks like Martinis, Margaritas and Cosmopolitans pair well with foods that can soften the taste of alcohol like fish.
Gin, infused with juniper and an intricate layering of botanicals, plays well against the briny sweetness of a classic shrimp cocktail, chilled seafood platter or grilled prawns.
Whiskey comes in so many formats and styles, but one thing is certain, it’s an amazing accompaniment to steak and really gives red wine a run for it’s money. The beef should be marbled and well-aged, the whiskey smooth and smokey and preferably, to be drunk neat.
Vodka, the traditional Russian drink, is usually served icey cold with caviar and smoked fish. It also goes well with pickled items like gherkins and pickled onions. In fact, traditionally, a Russian person would drink their vodka neat, chased by a sour gherkin or pickled onion – ironically, the two flavours blend together beautifully.
There’s a whole world of food and drinks pairing, just waiting to be explored. The best way of doing it, is to get stuck in! Visit Norman Goodfellows and find your favourite tipple for your best meal.