tastywith kc

Food & Wine 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Wine is made from fermented grapes. The juice is released by pressing them, exposing the sugars to yeast until it ferments, turning it into wine. They get their names from the grape they come from or the region they originate from. Their color comes from grape skins. Red wine is made by soaking the juice with the skins (using black/red grapes), while white wines are usually made without the grape skins (using green grapes). Wine labels usually have the wine producer/vineyard name, the year it was produced, the region where the grapes were grown, and the type of grape. As I continue to bring more food and wine events to the island of Grand Bahama, see below for some basic info about the subject:

Type of Wines

Sparkling Wine: Cava, Champagne, Lambrusco, Prosecco

Light- Bodied White Wine: Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Muscadet, Pinot Gris/ Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Soave, Vermentino

Full-Bodied White Wine: Chardonnay, Marsanne Blend, Sémillon, Viognier

Aromatic White Wine: Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Muscat Blanc/ Moscato, Riesling, Torrontés,

Rosé Wine

Light-Bodied Red Wine: Gamay, Pinot Noir

Medium-Bodied Red Wine: Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Carignan, Carménère, Grenache/Garnacha, Mencía, Merlot, Montepulciano, Negroamaro, Rhône/GSM Blend, Sangiovese, Valpolicella Blend, Zinfandel

Full-Bodied Red Wine: Aglianico, Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Nebbiolo, Nero d’Avola, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Pinotage, Syrah/Shiraz, Tempranillo, Touriga Nocaional

Dessert Wine: Madeira, Marsala, Port, Sauternais, Sherry, Vin Santo

Characteristic of Wines

  1. Sweetness: This refers to the level of residual sugar left in the wine after its creation. A sweet wine will have a higher level while a dry wine will have all of its sugars converted to alcohol during fermentation.
  2. Acidity: A wine’s acidity is what gives it sharpness also as its “pucker” or tartness.
  3. Tannin: Tannin is what gives you a drying effect in the mouth. You can say it adds bitterness to a wine. However, Tannin adds balance and helps wine last longer.
  4. Alcohol: This is what gives us the warming sensation at the back of our throat. Flavors can range from Bitter, sweet, spicy, and oily. Higher alcohol wines tend to taste bolder and oilier, while lower-alcohol wines feel lighter.
  5. Body: is the richness and weight of the wine in your mouth. This plays a major role in food pairing: light-bodied wines suit lighter dishes, while rich dishes such as steak calls for a full-bodied wine with strong flavors that can hold up against the meat’s bold aromas.

Wine Serving Etiquette

Traditionally, wines are served in a specific order. The food, however, is the real determining factor when serving. The most important goal is to choose the wines that best suit your menu and serve them in that order.

For multiple meals, the order below works best:

  1. white wines before red wine
  2. light wines before heavy wine
  3. dry wines before sweet wine
  4. dessert wines with desserts
  5. Sparkling wines before still wine

Food Pairing

Every food and wine pairing falls within two categories. The first is congruent pairings and the second is complementary pairings.

Congruent Pairing:

In a congruent pairing, the food and wine chosen will share several compounds or flavors. For example, a sweet wine paired with a sweet dish or a red wine with a buttery aftertaste paired with a buttery pasta dish. Ensure that the wine is not overwhelmed by the flavors of the food. When this occurs it can make the taste of the wine become bland. The benefit of a congruent pairing is to allow the wine and the food to enhance the flavor of the other.

Complimentary Pairing:

Complimentary pairings are based on food and wine combinations that share no compounds or flavors but instead complement each other. A sweet white wine paired with a spicy dish will allow the sugar in the wine to cool down and balance out the spiciness in the dish. Another common complementary pairing is a white wine with salty dishes. The saltiness from the food actually decreases the sweetness of the wine and brings out the wine’s fruity taste and aromas.

Wine n’ Vibe Pairings

Merlot: Typically, Merlot is a dry, medium- to full-bodied wine with moderate acidity, moderate to high alcohol, and soft but present tannins. The word Merlot is French for “the little blackbird.” It has dark fruit flavors of black cherry, blackberry, plum, and raspberry layered with herbal notes and undertones of vanilla and mocha. Merlot is paired with a variety of dishes, from charcuterie and cheese to pork and veal. It’s an overall great food wine for its versatility.
Rosé: Rosé is not a specific type of grape — it’s simply a genre of wine, like reds and whites. With shorter fermentation, this reduced skin contact is what gives Rosé its signature pink color. Rosé’s flavor profile is fresh and fruity. Each type of Rosé will taste slightly different ranging from savory to dry to sweet. Food pairings include Seafood (especially salmon) Pesto, Veggie Pizza, and Soft cheeses like brie and goat cheese. Bolder Rosé’s pair well with grilled meats, and lastly pair sparkling varieties with charcuterie, hummus, and flatbread.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Often called “Cab” for short, Cabernet Sauvignon is a hybrid of the red Cabernet Franc grape and white Sauvignon Blanc grape. Cabernet Sauvignon has dark fruit flavors of blackcurrant, black cherry, and blackberry with notes of green bell pepper, spice, tobacco, wood, and vanilla. The robust flavor and rich tannin content in Cabernet Sauvignon make it a perfect partner for nearly all grilled meats, peppery sauces, and richly flavored dishes. When it comes to cheese pairings aged Cheddar, Gouda, and Gruyere are all good choices. For dessert, choose blackberry, cherry, blueberry pie, or any dark chocolate treat.
Shiraz/Syrah: Syrah also known as Shiraz is a popular red wine. Wine drinkers that look for bold, full-bodied wines should reach for Shiraz. The wines are opaque, ruby-purple in hue, and offer concentrated jammy aromas and flavors of blueberry and blackberry, along with big, ripe tannins. Shiraz goes great with burgers and BBQ ribs. Richer, fuller-bodied styles with higher alcohol work with grilled beef, lamb, and other roasted or braised meats.
Moscato: Moscato made from muscat grapes. It’s famous for the sweet flavors of peaches and orange blossoms. The sweetness and low alcohol of Moscato d’Asti and Asti make them especially perfect for pairing with spicy food.

Wine Tasting Tips

  • Try different wines and compare them to best determine wine tastes.
  • The four elements vital to tasting wines are acidity, tannins, sweetness, and alcohol. 
  • To determine different flavors it’s good to compare two different whites and two different reds. 
  • Don’t forget to let the wine roll around in your mouth, or, open your lips and suck in some air to feel all of the wine. 

Stay tuned for upcoming flyers and event dates for my next wine tasting and food pairing event. If you missed the last one click here to see what you missed.