This is a guest post from Ian Tolledo. All opinions are his.
My girlfriend recently made a comment last week over dinner that will prompt me to research and write this article. She said, “Pairing drinks with food is just subjective and utter nonsense, it’s how you taste and think of it when eating that makes a food taste good anyway.” That hurt my pride – especially since I spent the entire week choosing the perfect wine to go with our 26th date night dinner.
It’s true, perception is different for everyone, and sure, your expectations will dictate how anything you drink or eat tastes. But we shouldn’t brush aside the idea of pairing for the simple reason that there’s just too much deliciousness to lose. Here’s what I gleaned from my study.
PAIRING ISN’T SNOBBY, YOU DO IT ALL THE TIME
Let’s dispel early on the myth of those who think about which drinks will go best with their meal are snobs. This term is reserved for those who hold up their pinkies whenever they drink. As food lovers, we pair our food and drinks all the time.
Take two seconds and think about whether a drink will go well with what you’re eating, whether it will make the meal taste better, and whether it will make the beverage taste better. If you love food, it only makes sense that you want to enhance it with your drink. And that’s where the magic happens: Sometimes the taste come together to create a newer, delicious set of flavors, bringing out the best in food that you wouldn’t have tasted if you never tried to merge them.
DRINK WHAT YOU LIKE
Here’s a statement I say too often here, “just drink what you want with your food, forget about rules.” It’s true though, if you hate a particular drink, you won’t love it with your food as well. Let’s say you have a bottle of your favorite Moet champagne from NZ. Awesome! Chances are you’ll enjoy it with almost every food that comes your way. It’s amazing how our brain (and hear) dictates how the food will taste. Try it yourself and you’ll be surprised!
KNOW WHAT’S DELICIOUS: CONTRASTING AND MIRRORING
Let’s say that there’s only one ‘perfect pairing’ for any specific food. But you want to have the best combination of food and drink, how can you ensure that the combination will be a winner? Here are two ways:
- First, you can pick drinks with characteristics that contrast the flavors in your meal. However, too much contrast could make the drink overstep the food and vice-versa. A perfect combination of contrast can bring out good things in both.
- The second method is mirroring, which means picking a drink that offers association with the food, supplementing similar features and helping them blend in harmony with your taste buds.
Carbonation, constituting acidity and brightness, can cleanse the palate when eating a rich meal, refreshing your taste buds for another bite. Sparkling wine’s got it. Beer’s got it. Even diet Coke has it too – carbonation is part of what makes coke and sodas so good with greasy, roasted meat. Yum!
Okay, these details may seem like a lot, but they’re just a few entries into the world of dining delicious food-and-beverage combinations. What did I tell my girlfriend the next time we dated? Try it first – then you decide! She conceded.