There are few things more decadent than sitting down at the end of the day with a glass of really good red wine. Something about the savory flavor of a glass of red signifies that it’s time to relax and unwind.
Red wine is incredibly versatile, and while each bottle of wine will have its own essence, the several different varietals of red wine each have their own signature flavors and pair well with different types of cuisine.
When studying the taste characteristics of wine, there are a few different traits that we look for when determining how a red wine will best pair with food:
- is the wine dry, or sweet?
- is it light, or full-bodied?
- what is the tannin level?
- is the wine acidic?
Establishing the characteristics of your favorite wine will help you figure out which food it will be best paired with.
How to Pair Different Varietals of Red Wine
It’s true that red wine generally pairs better with more rich and savory dishes than white, but the proper varietal of red wine can also be paired with lighter fares. While you may not think of red wine as the best option for pairing with a seafood dish, a light-bodied pinot noir is actually the perfect complement to a dish of salmon and a light salad. If you prefer to stick with white for seafood, or if your seafood is being served at an outdoor venue or as part of a casual get together, you may want to try something refreshing like a pinot grigio canned drink! It’s easily transported, and a 4 pack is equivalent to just over a bottle of wine.
Cabernet sauvignon on the other hand, is a fuller-bodied red, and is delicious when paired with red meat such as a perfectly grilled steak or lamb. A flavor combination that may not be as obvious is to pair a glass of cab with a burger! You can really class up a good burger by serving it with a nice cabernet. Not a big meat eater? A grilled portabello mushroom dish with a side of cheese is also a perfect complement to this varietal of wine.
If you’re looking to spice things up, try a bold Malbec paired with a spiced stew or a zesty tomato-based dish. Malbec is a strong wine that pairs well with other strong flavors. Malbec enjoys being paired with almost any type of meat, because the bold tastes of both the food and the wine tend to complement each other.
Benefits of Drinking Red Wine
Aside from being delicious, red wine actually has some health benefits too! It’s always best to moderate your consumption of alcohol, but unlike many types of alcohol, red wine doesn’t lower your immune system.
In fact, a study done by the University of Florida determined that the alcohol content in red wine doesn’t negate the heart-healthy benefits of red wine, which are due to its high antioxidant content. Red wine has even been shown to have some anti-cancer properties, again due to the concentration of antioxidants (which are interestingly highest in the pinot noir varietal.)
A perfectly paired wine and food dish is one of the palate’s great pleasures, but don’t let the fear of messing up the perfect pairing ruin your enjoyment of the wine! Pairing wine with the proper foods will help bring out the flavors in each, and can certainly enhance your experience, but the most important thing to remember is if you’re enjoying the taste of your wine, it’s paired perfectly already!