Do you always struggle to find the right type of beverage for your romantic candlelit dinner at home or are you not sure which beverage to bring to a braai?
The ideal pairing of any drink and food can go a long way in further enhancing your dining experience.
When it comes to pairing beverages with food, the options are endless. From water and tea to beer and cocktails, the objective is to find the perfect beverage that enhances the flavours of the dish.
This is particularly important with certain types of cuisine, such as food and wine pairings, where the right combination can take the dining experience to a whole new level.
To do this effectively, there are several elements you need to consider.
Pay attention to spices and seasoning
If you pay attention to the protein being served, you can quickly get a feel for which wines, spirits—and even beers—pair well with certain dishes.
Once you feel comfortable with simple pairings, begin to consider the other spices involved in each dish. If you are serving up hot, spicy dishes, you will want to offer a sweeter drink to help cut the heat.
For smoky or barbecue dishes, look for drinks with deep oak flavours. Whether you go with wine or beer, you will be impressed by how much a barrel-aged product does for the dish.
When pairing food and cocktails or non-alcoholic beverages, not only flavour should be taken into consideration, but also mouth-feel.
Apple juice has a completely different body to tomato juice, which is completely different from soda water. And unless the plan is a liquid dinner, full-bodied cocktails should be reserved for the end of the meal.
While food and beverage pairings can be highly personal, some foods lend themselves well to particular drinks.
Savour the pairings
Food pairing is an art and a science. It is about evoking emotions, creating memories, and bringing people together. Embrace the challenge, experiment with flavours, and let your culinary creations shine.
While still learning how to master the above, there are certain food pairing myths you should stop believing.
According to chef Slobodan Stefancic, these are some of the myths that you should be aware of:
Only one correct pairing
One common misconception is that there is only one correct pairing for a specific dish or ingredient. Multiple pairing options can work well.
Taste preferences can vary greatly among individuals, and what may be a perfect pairing for one person might not be the same for another.
Experimentation and personal taste should be embraced when it comes to food pairing.
Many people believe that there are strict rules that must be followed for food pairing. While some general guidelines can help enhance flavours, there are no hard and fast rules that apply to every situation.
Pairings are often influenced by personal preferences, cultural traditions, and regional variations.
It is important to be open to exploring different combinations and trusting your own palate.
Dessert should always be paired with a sweet wine
While sweet wines like port or Sauternes can certainly be a great pairing for dessert, they are not the only option.
A dry wine, like champagne, or a crisp white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc, can be a refreshing complement to a rich, creamy dessert like cheesecake.
And if you are not in the mood for wine, a dessert cocktail like an espresso Martini can be a delicious way to cap off your meal.
Another misconception is that food and drink pairings should always match in terms of flavour. While complementary flavours can create harmonious pairings, contrasting flavours can also be enjoyable and interesting.
Contrasts can provide balance, highlight certain aspects of the dish, or create a pleasant surprise. For example, a tart and acidic beverage can provide a refreshing contrast to a rich and fatty dish.
It is important to recognise that food pairing is subjective and can vary depending on personal preferences, cultural backgrounds, and individual taste sensitivities. What works well for one person may not work for another.