If you’re entertaining this weekend or would like to excite your taste buds like never before, matching great food with great alcohol is the way to go. It’s both exciting and a little daunting. To get the perfect wine, whiskey or beer to match with the best food takes imagination and daring. It’s taken hundreds of years for some food and alcohol pairings to be accepted by the masses. We all know how marvelous fish and white wine is.
We also know how great barbecue cuisine and a bottle of cold beer can be. However, what about finer dining? Red wine doesn’t rule the roost, contrary to what recipe books might believe. Here are some food and alcohol pairings, made in heaven.
Go bourbon, go bold
Bourbon or American whiskey is bold, smokey, sweet and full-bodied. It’s one of the most popular drinks around the world because of how homely and satisfying it is. Its rich orange and brown color, is attractive to the eye and the texture allows for the bourbon to dance on the tongue and massage your gums with each sip.
So, if you are after something very special try the Buffalo Trace Double Eagle. A bold and smooth bourbon, it’s 20 years old and has been aged in traditional oak barrels.
A smokey and bold meal has to go with a bold bourbon. So, incorporate lots of smoke, such as a salty steak. Go with something thick, bloody and juicy, such as a Porterhouse cut. It has a little marbling, but it’s mostly a lean thick cut that begs to be eaten rare. Make sure that the tenderloin side isn’t placed on the heat for too long.
For seasoning, you could just leave it at sea salt and fresh peppercorn, or you can rub it with a little spice like paprika and butter to give it a kick.
Desert and brandy
Brandy is not as strong as whiskey as the former is made from fermented fruits while the latter is made from fermented grains. So, brandy is often used as an accompaniment for deserts as it’s naturally sweet.
One of the best combinations is brandy and chocolate. If you select high-quality chocolate for your dessert, the brandy will not be overpowering.
A double chocolate bundt cake is a brilliant option. This cake is not too light, and not too heavy, and it has plenty of texture. The first chocolate could be milk chocolate, as it gives the cake a little moisture and softness. The second could be a rich dark chocolate which will give the cake crunch, body and a slightly more bitter kick.
The brandy you could choose, should have caramelized or toffee notes, cherry and raisins in the body and figs as the aftertaste. Look for a brandy that is no more than 40% proof as you want it to merge with a dish for sweet tooth lovers.
Beef and wine
Perhaps the most recognizable and accepted food and alcohol pairing is beef and red wine. But what kind of dish should you have with a full-bodied red wine? Steak is quite a classic option but let’s try to be a little more imaginative. How about a rich beef casserole? A casserole is easy to make. Anyone with a crockpot can make a delicious beef casserole with minimal effort. The key is to have patience. The beef needs to absorb the juices of the vegetables and the spices and herbs. A braised beef casserole will take up to 3-5 hours to cook. It usually will have some tougher but more flavorful cuts, that will take time to break down and become soft.
To go with your casserole, you are spoiled for choice in terms of red wines. A full-bodied Malbec is mostly going to be from grapes grown in Argentina. Malbec contains rich fruits such as black cherry, blackberry, plum and raisin to name a few. This dark and sweet wine is perfect for a bold beef dish. A cabernet is another option. The grapes are usually grown again in South America, but also Napa Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains. It grows in gravel, which makes it a hardy, bitter, strong wine that is great to pair with a powerful dish such as beef casserole.
Fish and wine
It should come as no surprise that fish and white wine are on this list of food and alcohol pairings made in heaven. You almost can’t go wrong with a succulent white or dark fish, with a silky smooth and sweet white wine. It’s going to be a light meal, a light drink and it’s going to make you want to enjoy what you’re eating the more so.
For a lean and oily fish, select sea bass. It’s delicate flesh but oily scales make for the perfect fish dish on a sunny weekend. The flesh and scales can absorb a decent amount of oil, so shallow frying in olive oil will make the dish ever juicier.
The wine should also be delicate. You don’t want to drown out the flavor of the fish. So go with the Portuguese Vinho Verde. It’s a light, crisp and bubbly wine that can be enjoyed with lean and flaky fish such as sea bass. It comes from a region in Portugal, so it’s not going to be a specialist wine, which makes it more accessible to those who are not fond of white wines.
If you want something with a little bit more punch, go with the Spanish Albarino. It has citrus, peach, apricot and lemon peel to name a few ingredients. It’s bolder but not too powerful, so it can also be enjoyed with darker fish such as salmon or tuna.
These food and alcohol pairings should get your imagination going. Some people think you can pair any old alcoholic drink with any dish. Yes, you can. But, the meal and the dining experience will not be as rich and memorable as when you make the perfect pairing.