Wine Pairing Rule 3 – Pay Attention to Acidity & Sweetness

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,429
    WineSmith owner Neil Smith demonstrates the importance of sweetness and acidity in wine and food using a taste test.

    Neil Smith: Hi, I am Neil Smith with WineSmith and today, I am showing you how to pair wine with food. Right now, we are going to talk about our third wine and food pairing rule which is to pay attention to acidity and sweetness in the wine and what I mean more specifically by that is thinking about a white wine like Sauvignon Blanc for example that has a high level of acidity. We need to think about the food and whether or not it has equally high levels of acidity or does it have sweetness. So sweetness can actually make a highly acidic wine taste even sharper and very unpleasant whereas acidity in food can actually, tame the acidity in the wine and work well together.

    So I invite you to do another taste test with me to prove that point. For that taste test we are going to need the Sauvignon Blanc that we talked about in the intro. We are also going to need same grilled chicken breast with some lemon wedges and then finally, we will blow the cake doughnuts. So what we are going to do to start off this tasting is take the lemon wedge and squirt it all over the chicken. I want to get as much on there as you can just to prove the point. I am actually going to go ahead and put two on just to make sure you have lots of lemon juice on there and then take a bite of the chicken breast with the lemon juice on it. I have to chew that bite and swallow it. Take a sip of the Sauvignon Blanc and the Sauvignon Blanc doesn't seem quite as sharp as it does without the food.

    Now to illustrate the second half of that example, take a small bite of the cake doughnut which is plenty sweet and then follow that with a sip of the Sauvignon Blanc. So with the sugar from the cake doughnut followed by the acidity in the wine you can see what I mean about how the sugar really brings out more of the acidity in a wine and makes it very sharp and rather unpleasant in the mouth. So those are a couple of rules to remember when you are thinking about the acidity and the sweetness in wine. One other point is a sweet wine or a wine that has a lot of natural fruitiness to it like a German Riesling for example, can work very well with spicy food because the sweetness in the wine or the fruitiness in the wine will help to tame the spice of the food.

    So next time you have something like a Thai curry or a spicy Asian dish, try pairing that with a German Riesling or an Alsatian Gewurztraminer and notice how the sweetness in the wine helps tame the spiciness in the food.

    So these are some tips to remember when pairing highly acidic wines or sweet wines with your meal. Now we are going to talk about the fourth rule which is to always remember sparkling wines and dessert wines when planning a menu.