Flavour assassins: what not to pair with your glass of wine
Thu, 30 January 2014
They say that wine trembles with fear when capers, chili and asparagus are about. But all hope is not lost – as you will find out, most flavour assassins can be tamed with the help of another main ingredient to divert the attention. A creamy sauce, a juicy steak or a fresh salad could be all you need to harness the strong flavours in these foods.
Capers get a hard wrap for being impossible to match with wine. But it’s not the fault of the fruit – the vinegar they’re preserved in is the real culprit here. Capers are only a real problem if you’re eating them alone. Enjoy in a fresh salmon sandwich alongside Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio and you’ll be just fine.
Chili has numbing qualities that make it a difficult match for some wines. We suggest steering clear of delicate, fine wines, as they simply cannot match the numbing effect of chili. Tannin rich reds will feel like an assault on the senses when served with a chili dish so try something in between.
Artichoke alone will make wine taste metallic and sweeter. Combat this effect by diverting attention with the help of a creamy or acidic sauce and then pair your wine accordingly – Try a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blend with this great artichoke salad recipe.
Asparagus is a tricky one. This vegetable has quite a sharp and overpowering flavour that most wines can’t handle, with exception of a special few. Try matching with Sauvignon Blanc or sauté in butter and serve with Chardonnay.
Spinach will bring out bitter and metallic tones in most wines. The best way to enjoy spinach and wine is to increase the acidity of the spinach with a hint of lemon juice, or cook in a creamy or cheese sauce and pair with Chardonnay or something similar.
Soy sauce will cause bitter and metallic tones in a bottle of red. Stick to an acidic white with a hint of sweetness like Gewurztraminer next time you chow down on that cucumber sushi.
Chocolate and wine are generally not friends. Which is a shame considering a pairing these two vices would make for a lovely evening. The sweetness of the chocolate and it’s propensity to coat the mouth is most troublesome. Fear not – when all else fails, a delicious muscadel makes a fantastic partner for chocolate.
The intense and overpowering flavours of fennel make it a difficult match for almost all wines except one – Sauvignon Blanc. If you really want some fennel with your wine, we suggest sautéing in butter or serving with another strong flavour, as in fennel and lamb sausage rolls.
If you’re after some good advice about what are some great food & wine matches, we’ve got some on our website – along with great recipes and advice on how to store and serve your wine.