Both our VINE TALK wine experts and celebrity chefs who have appeared on our show agree that despite the traditional guideline to pair red wines with red meat and white wines with seafood, it is fine to mix it up. So where did this guideline come from in the first place?
Big, bold and tannic red wines cry out for just the kind of fat that makes a juicy steak so delicious. Tannins are the source of that “sucking” or ”drying out” sensation that comes on the finish with some red wines. Not all red wines have this quality, however, and when considering tannins, it is helpful to think of them as puzzle pieces that need another piece snapped in to become whole. That missing piece? You guessed it – fat. Basically, tannins latch onto fat like magnets which helps the wine go down smoother.
As for whites with seafood? White wines often have higher acid and can wake and open the taste buds, paving the way for the delicate flavors found in seafood.
Now that you know why the old standard is just that, you can apply those concepts to any dish. If you insist on sticking to it, however, you might miss out on some fantastic pairing opportunities. After all, if steak were the only fatty food life would certainly be a lot easier, right? And the delicate flavors of seafood apply to dishes strewn with fresh spring vegetables or soft herbal flavors, too.
Still don’t believe us? Try drinking Pinot Noir or Zinfandel the next time you’re eating Salmon or an on-the-sweeter-side Chenin Blanc (aka Vouvray) with Honey-Glazed Ham.