The International Day of Drinking Wine and Exploring New Pairings is celebrated on February 18, with the aim of spreading the benefits of wine and its various pairing alternatives. This date was born in the United States but has been successfully replicated around the world, especially in wine-producing countries.
By pairing, we understand the harmonious combination of wine and food in a pleasant sensory experience in order to better appreciate their flavors, aromas, textures and organoleptic qualities in an assembled way. However, far from being a pure science, it is a complex, fine and subjective notion that opens up infinite possibilities for exploration.
The search for these palate sensations is based on the interaction between gastronomy, viticulture, enology and scientific advances, all areas in constant evolution.
The principles of pairing
A basic rule to keep in mind is that pairing is a very dynamic specialty, there is no single and immutable rule for a perfect pairing and with time more and more innovative proposals emerge. Tastes and choices in the act of eating are subjective and individual, but they are not permanent, each person can “educate the palate”, broaden their perspectives and experience new pleasurable sensations. From the diner’s point of view, the art of food pairing is a sensory, conscious and voluntary act, it is not simply a matter of accompanying a meal with a particular drink without stopping to savor them and appreciate their qualities.
Despite its evolution, dynamism and subjectivity, this elegant art has certain guiding principles. Not every wine goes with every meal, so we tend to pair red meats or main dishes with red wines, and white meats or fish with white wines.
Among the various factors to consider when choosing a wine pairing are the intensity, the mass, the color, the chemical composition of the wine, as well as the texture of the food, which is its tactile dimension and has a great impact on the taste buds. This texture is determined by the type of proteins, the cooking method, sauces and accompaniments, among others.
Balance between wine and food
To obtain a balance between wine and food, it is suggested that both have a similar weight. In food, weight is determined by the amount of fat, intensity of flavor and ease of digestion, while in wine, weight is measured by the type of grapes, alcohol content, tannin concentration, aging and the way it is made.
For example, salads and starters pair best with light young white wines or rosé wines, while hunting stews and hearty dishes pair best with full-bodied red wines, reserve or gran reserva reds. Another important factor is acidity; it is advisable to pair an acidic food with an acidic wine to enhance its flavors, since, if the wine does not have enough acidity, the acidic food will make the wine feel flat and without structure.
Types of pairing
There are several criteria to achieve a good pairing depending on the results sought in the gastronomic experience:
1. Pairing by similarity
Pairing by similarity combines dishes and wines by their similar characteristics, so as to mutually enhance or complement each other.
2. Pairing by contrast
Pairing by contrast, on the other hand, aims at the union between two opposite or dissimilar flavors that at the same time harmonize.
3. Regional pairing
Regional pairing consists of seeking pleasurable sensations by highlighting the harmonization of products from the same terroir, which have been born and grown together.
4. Genetic pairing
The exploration of new pairings that has gone the furthest, and makes us think of its future projection, has been that of the González Byass Family of Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, in 2018. For the first time in history, a menu was created based on the genetic typology of the diners, designed by award-winning Mauro Colagreco, chef with 2 Michelin stars and number 3 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Let’s celebrate drinking wine with a new pairing.
As we saw, the wine pairing experience is a subjective and moving sensation based on the interaction of multiple factors.
Have you already thought of exploring a new pairing to honor the celebration of this February 18?