Ten worst food and wine matches
1. Sweet foods with dry wines
Champagne and cake seems like a good idea. It (mostly) isn’t. The sweetness in the cake is likely to make most Champagnes taste bitter. I say “most” because you might manage a satisfactory match between a slightly sweet cake and a “Doux” Champagne, which has over 50 grams/litre of residual sugar. Doux champagne is hard to find.
2. High acid foods with low acid wines
Planning on drinking your favourite Barossa Valley shiraz with chicken vindaloo? Don’t.Acidity in food strips acidity from wines. If you have a high acid food, such as goats cheese, don’t match it with low acid wines like gewürztraminer or pinot gris. The wine will taste very bland.
3. High alcohol wines with salty foods
Forget matching sherry with nacho chips. High alcohol wines (over 14% abv) react with salt, making it taste bitter.
4. High alcohol wines with spicy foods
Planning on drinking your favourite Barossa Valley shiraz with chicken vindaloo? Don’t. The alcohol is likely to amplify the spice in the dish to an uncomfortable level.
5. Strong-flavoured dishes with delicate wines – and vice versa
It’s all about balance folks. Try to match intensity levels in both food and wine if you wish to achieve a state of bliss.
6. Oily fish with tannic red wine
You’ll only try this once. The tannins in red wine tend to react with oily fish making it taste metallic. If you like metallic mullet – go for it.
7. Brussel sprouts and artichokes are the enemies of wine
That’s simply not true, but I believed it for years after reading it in an authoritative food and wine book. I’ve since found that both go well with crisp, dry white wine that hasn’t been near an oak barrel, such as (most) Marlborough sauvignon blanc.
8. Very spicy food and a big, oaky chardonnay
I don’t really need to spell this out.
9. Blue cheese and Marlborough sauvignon blanc
I’m tempted to say “don’t even think about it” but we’re all different. I hate it but am quite sure there is someone out there who will love it.
10. Syrah with sweet & sour chicken
My buttocks clench together at the very thought of this. I haven’t tried it and never will. A phenomenon called psychological pre-determination means that it will never work for me. That doesn’t mean it won’t work for anyone else.