Ever tried spicy Asian food with a serious red wine? How about Pinot Noir with a tart salad? While most wine and food pair quite well together, there are a few combinations that plain and simply don’t work. Today we’re going to explore some of the worst wine pairings. As we do this, we’ll pick up some tips on good wine pairings. Next week we’ll switch gears and explore some of the best wine pairings.
Wise Words from Wine Experts
One of my favorite wine experts is Karen MacNeil who wrote The Wine Bible. In her book, she talks about the importance of being mellow when it comes to wine and food pairing. She encourages us to trust our instincts, experiment, have fun and recognize that most combinations of food and wine will work well. Karen is not alone. Most wine experts sound a similar tune. As we’re exploring some of the worst wine tastings, do your best not to get too obsessed. After all, a bad pairing can very often be a laughable, memorable moment.
The Worst Wine Pairings Start with Bubbly and Wedding Cake
How many times at a wedding have you thought to yourself, “Wow, they bought a really bad cake.” This might have been because you were eating the cake while drinking dry champagne. A very bad match. A wedding cake is so sweet and rich that the dry sparkling wine fights it. The end result is bad-tasting cake and bad-tasting bubbly. A much better pairing: a somewhat sweet champagne.
Other Challenging Desserts
- Ice cream and dry wine. Everybody loves ice cream, and everybody loves wine. Why not pair them together? Because the wine needs to be sweeter than the dessert or else the wine will come across as flat. Also, because most wine’s acidity really doesn’t play well with ice cream. Finally, the bitter notes of a tannic wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon will wipe out the wonderful sweetness you’re looking for from your ice cream. A better option: a dessert wine like Sauternes.
- Chocolate cake and red wine. The chocolate and the tannins will be an ugly combination.
- Lemon tart and Viognier. Pairing lemon tart with any acidic wine will result in serious acidity overload.
Main Course Difficulties
- Chianti and tuna salad. The tuna will make the Chianti taste metallic. Yuck!
- Short ribs and Muscat. The delicate flavors of the wine will get lost. Sad.
- Syrah and sweet and sour chicken. You’re mixing too many flavors here.
- Pinot Noir and anything acidic. The fruitiness of the Pinot will be overwhelmed and broken down, resulting in a flat pairing.
- Cab and petrale sole. A white flaky fish will get lost and may even sour with a big bold Cab.
- Tannic reds and raw fish. Both parts of the pairing will end up tasting awful.
- Spicy food and high-alcohol red wine. High-alcohol wines won’t tame spicy food. The only wine that does this is a crisp, low-alcohol chilled white.
A Good Lesson from Decanter.com
Decanter.com tells us that people wrongly focus on flavors and aromas when choosing a wine with their food. They say that it’s more important to match the fat, acid, sweetness, and texture in the dish with the acid, alcohol, tannins, and sweetness of the wine.
I’d love to hear about your worst wine pairings. Please share them with us here. Thanks.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
WineShop At Home