There’s a myth that you must have red wine with meat and white with fish and chicken, however, this simply is a myth; if you like a shiraz and trout, then why shouldn’t you have them together, it’s your meal and your pallet.
But, the convention exists none the less and many people feel it should be adhered to. This being the case, how do you choose which wine to have with a formal dinner?
The first thing you need to do, if you’re serving red you should open the bottle and let it breathe for a few hours before serving. Again convention says that red should be served at room temperature, in fact the exact temperature varies, although, ten degrees Celsius below room temperature is a good mean to aim for.
If your menu is based upon fish then tradition says that your wine choice should be white and if you’re cooking for guests then it’s a good convention to keep to as is serving red wine with red meat.
So, how do you actually choose which wine to serve with a particular dish that will compliment it, adding to the flavour of the food without overpowering or clashing with the ingredients?
The simplest way to go through the menu and what to serve is to start at the beginning. Or even before the beginning.
When choosing an aperitif the options should be drinks such as Champagne or wine. Some people have gin, whisky or vodka before starting a meal but this is considered by many to be a mistake, some describe a gin before food as like taking a hammer to the taste buds.
If you’re serving fresh water fish, chicken or mouse as a starter then the wine should be a refreshing sweet white, cold and light, if the fish is a stronger sea fish, a dryer white is preferable as it is complimented by the saltiness of the seafood.
If the started is a soup or consommA© the wine should be a light red as a heavier red is better suited to dark meats. Rose is becoming more acceptable with food as it gathers a reputation as a wine that’s drunk in company, for many years it languished as a poor cousin of the red but now, as more bottlers are producing roses drinking it with pasta or salad is becoming more popular.
Moving onto the main course; again if it’s chicken or fresh water fish white is usual, although a dryer white is normally taken with a main course as the meal is more substantial. White can also be served with pork and ham as the flavour of the meat isn’t particularly suited to red wine.
On the other hand, if you’re serving red meat, or a strong fish like tuna a red wine can suit it well.
As well as wine, port is always a welcome accompaniment to the dinner table, whether you’re serving surf or turf. And brandy is usually served after dinner along with coffee.
Before we get there though, there’s the desert wine to consider. For desert you might choose a particularly sweet white, however, a specific desert wine might be preferable. Desert wines are made form a grape which has been exposed, while growing, to an infection which makes the grape’s juice exceptionally sweet, desert wines are not normally served on their own due to this sweetness which could mean that a good desert wine is harder to find, hence the possibility of serving a very sweet table wine.
Another tip I’d like to offer is that you don’t necessarily get what you pay for, although you do get what you pay for!
Many wine critics say that to the average pallet, once you spend more than A?7.00 ($10.00) on a bottle of wine you can’t really taste the difference, so, if one bottle is A?7.00 and another is A?14.00 there’s very little difference in taste, so buy two of the A?7.00 ones!