DECANTED: THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO WINE PROFILES FOR BEGINNERS
A sommelier elegantly pours a bit of wine into your outstretched wine glass. He watches you intently while you swirl your wine around your glass wondering if you should swirl clockwise or counterclockwise.
You take a swig of your wine as the sommelier’s gaze intensifies, eyes narrowing. You start to sweat. Are you supposed to swish the wine around your mouth or gargle it like mouth wash? Chocking at the hilarious thought, you gulp it all down, hoping you are not questioned as to what you tasted.
Oops, wait. What did you taste? Berries, chocolate, leather, tobacco, daisies? The wine tasted delicious, but was it even a good wine? “Ugh nevermind,” you think. You nod in the most stylishly omniscient way you can, regaining your composure. The pleased sommelier then proceeds to pour an impeccably measured glass of wine for you.
Ahh. It’s over! You heave a sigh of relief, finally free of the pressure to resume your delicious meal, albeit feeling mildly crestfallen due to your inept knowledge on wine.
Many of us have been in that situation, and before you proceed, we want to affirm - you were off to the right start. If the wine tasted amazing and paired with the food better than Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook, that’s the most important part!
Remember, an imperfect pairing may not be a big deal. However, believe it or not, a magical pairing creates a balance that elevates your dining experience from being “Meh” to “OMG”!
TIPS TO REMEMBER WHEN TASTING A WINE
Although there are many, many tips to remember when tasting wine. Our intention is to simplify the process. As such, here are three essential tips we feel are the easiest to remember and simple to practice.
- The wine should have the same flavour intensity as the food.
What we mean by this is, as a starting point, the flavour of the wine you choose shouldn't be drowned by the taste of the food you're having. Or vice-versa.
- Now zone in on the dominant flavour of the dish.
Match wine with the dish's dominant flavour such as the sauce or seasoning rather than with the meat you're using. Let's take a prawn laksa, for instance. Can you decipher the dominant flavour in this dish? If you guessed laksa leaf and coconut milk as opposed to prawns, you're on the right path.
- Red wines pair best with boldly flavoured meats and white wines pair best with light-intensity meats
Why is this so? In an article that appeared in WineSpectator explains, “The reason red wine typically pairs well with red meat is that red wine tends to be higher in tannins. While on their own, tannins can feel drying, they’re a good complement to the rich fattiness that can be found in red meat.”
The same article elaborates that white wines are much better paired with seafood or white meat such as chicken. This is because these may have a higher acidity. The author adds, "It complements food similarly to how a squirt of lemon juice can brighten a seafood dish." This analogy makes sense, doesn't it?
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THESE THREE GUIDELINES?
To ensure the most optimum wine drinking experience, the flavour that you experience needs to establish balance. The main aim is to avoid one characteristic from overpowering another.
It is essential that the wine and food act as equal partners.
To further guide you, you can consider the weight, body and richness of them both. For example, hearty food needs a hearty wine.
We hope our starter course has cleared your doubts about which wines you should be pairing with the food you cook at home, serve to guests or order at a restaurant. What we want to stress (pun not intended!) is that wine shouldn’t be stressful! Ultimately, the wine you select should complement the food you eat and, most importantly, make you happy.
Look out for our next blog where we list down a few popular dishes (including Asian dishes!), and the suggested a wine pairing to go with the food.