Serving temperature of food and wine
Mon, 28 November 2016
Not all warm meals are meant to be served hot, and not all drinks are meant to be served cold. Welcome to the wonderful world of your tongue, where temperature plays a leading role in your perception of taste.
Temperature can refer to the actual degrees of a meal – such as a warm soup or a cold salad. It can also refer to the spice levels, such as a hot and spicy meal versus a mild dish. Either way, when you are choosing a wine to go along with your meal you should take into account these different factors. Usually, like goes with like in the food and wine world. A cold salad goes well with a cold glass of sauvignon blanc, while a hot curry pairs perfectly with a spicy red. Read on to find out why temperature plays such an important role in the serving of food and wine:
Temperature of food
The taste of food can be greatly changed depending on the temperature at which you are consuming it. Although it may sound odd, a dish should never be eaten when it is piping hot. The food will burn your tastebuds and you won’t be able to taste the flavours. As the meal begins to cool down, the flavours will become more pronounced and you will be able to enjoy them more. If a restaurant serves you a meal that is just warm instead of hot, take a moment to try the flavours before you complain. Like Goldilocks, you may find that the dish is just right!
Different types of food can change taste quite drastically depending on the temperature at which it is eaten. The Journal of Sensory Studies published a paper in 2005 about an experiment conducted on cheddar cheese. Researchers served the same cheese at varying temperatures; 5C, 12C and 21C. The people tasting the cheese reported very different tastes for each one. As the temperature of the cheese rose, the sourness increased.
In an experiment conducted in the same year, the opposite was found to happen to ice-cream. As ice-cream grows warmer and begins to melt, it becomes more and more sweet until it reaches a point of being sickeningly sweet. Frozen cold ice-cream however, is just the right level of sweetness to be enjoyed. Temperature affects the taste of food and drink in all different ways, for example; ham is salty when cold but savoury when warm, and beer becomes bitter when it warms up.
Temperature of what you drink while eating
Australians tend to drink ice-cold water at mealtimes. In Asia, it is more common to have a glass of warm or even hot water with the meal. In Europe it is somewhere in the middle, as they enjoy their water not far below room temperature. What people are probably unaware of is that the temperature at which they are enjoying their drinks, whether it is water, juice or wine, can make a difference to what they are tasting in their meal. Cold drinks actually decrease the taste of sweetness in food, as well as the perception of creaminess and any chocolate flavours. Researchers are now wondering if Americans, who like their drinks ice-cold like Australians, prefer sweet food for this very reason.
Changing the temperature of your tongue has also been linked to a change in perception of sweetness versus saltiness. Warming the front edge of the tongue can conjure sweetness, whereas cooling that same area evokes saltiness and/or sourness.
You will often hear that wine and spicy food don’t mix. But surprisingly, a full-bodied red goes very well with a dish that is heavy on the spice.
Many people assume that eating something spicy might mean you’re better off with something cold to cool the mouth down. But red wine is said to help dilute the sting that comes from chilli peppers.
Choose a dry red that has been chilled just lightly in the fridge. It needs to be bold enough so the flavour of the wine can still be tasted through the spice of the food. Don’t be afraid to choose a wine high in tannins, as spice will mostly eliminate the taste of tannins. You will be surprised at how different the wine tastes on its own compared to drinking it with a hot meal.
If you prefer white wine, opt for a cold, sweet white to go with your spicy food.
If you are planning to serve a mild dish consisting of fish or poultry, you should pair it with a lighter wine. Try a light dry wine, like a sauvignon blanc, or a sparkling wine with fish. For poultry, opt for a rich white wine such as chardonnay or a light to medium red, such as a pinot noir or a merlot. The trick is to try not to have either the food or the wine overpowering the other. It isn’t a competition between the two tastes, instead they should fully complement each other.
At Taylors Wines we have developed a unique, touch activated temperature sensor so you can tell when your wine is at the perfect serving temperature to enjoy. Read more about our new Optimum Drinking Temperature sensor and order your FREE sensor stickers today to take the Taylors Temperature Challenge and see the difference for yourself.