Generally speaking, wine pairing is all about balance in the mouth. We do not want two competing flavours in the mouth; wine must complement the food, not compete with it for dominance. It must accentuate the flavour of the food, not overpower it. On the other hand, if the wine it too light for the food, it will get lost in the mouth. It must not be too weak, but not overpower the food either. Flavours must match. We’re after balance, not competition… sort of like the perfect marriage. With grape wines, there are certain underlying principles that determine how you pair foods with wine. Underlying these principles are the basic tastes and flavours. These are: sourness, sweetness, bitterness, saltiness, fattiness, hot & spicy, and fruitiness. To match these tastes and flavours, we must heed three basic principles: 1) Match the most predominant building blocks in the wine to the same ones found in the food. 2) Contrast building blocks only when absolutely necessary. 3) Make sure the wine’s predominant building block is more pronounced than the food’s. Fruit Wine Pairings by Dominic Rivard For those of us that love to make or buy fruit wines, the question of pairing food and fruit wines always comes up. Pairing food with regular grape wines is also an art, but there is so much information out there in books and on the internet, that making pairing decisions is a lot easier than with fruit wines. There simply is not a lot of information available on fruit wines, and most successful pairings come about through trial and error. Some time ago, I worked with an Alberta winery, Field Stone Fruit Wines, on pairing their wines with food for a group session at Calgary Farmer’s Market. I thought I would share this to get your taste buds flowing and inspire you to come up with your own fruit wine and food pairing. There are so many possibilities, but here are just a few. 1. Black Currant Fruit Wine: Dry, delicate aroma, crisp finish. Food Pairing: Sushi. Reason for the pairing: The wine is light and delicate and will not overpower the fish. 2. Cherry Fruit Wine: A balanced but intense nose, delicate palate, slightly acidic finish and easy to drink. Food Pairing: A salmon-based dish. Reason for pairing: The slightly bigger nose of the wine will be able to match the higher flavoured salmon.
3. Raspberry Fruit Wine Dried fruit nose, off-dry, good structure and mellow finish. Food Pairing: Rosemary Chicken. Reason for pairing: The body of the raspberry is smooth and well structured but the tannins are low enough to go well with poultry and not over power it. 4. Strawberry/Rhubarb Fruit Wine White “zin-like” nose, more musky palate, delicate and drying finish. Food Pairing: A light salad with fruit. Reason for pairing: A sweeter wine that goes perfectly with light, California style salads. 5. Bumbleberry Fruit Wine (strawberry, raspberry, saskatoon berry) Off-dry, more fruity pie flavour, soft but fresh finish. Food Pairing: Great with easy eating, flavorful meals such as pizza. Reason for pairing: Smoked flavours and herbs on the pizza will increase the complexity of the wine. 6. Strawberry Dessert Wine More intense strawberry nose, apricot, rich palate, golden. Food Pairing: Apricot based desserts. Reason for pairing: The rich, almost floral flavours will go well with this wine that is reminiscent of a Vidal late-harvest wine. 7. Wild Black Cherry Dessert Wine Musky, ripe stewed fruit, good acid balance finish. Food Pairing: Crème Brule. Reason for pairing: The acid balance will go perfectly with a rich, creamy dessert. 8. Saskatoon Berry Dessert Wine Musky, foxy, stewed fruit, canned fruit, some brown sugar, exotic nose. Food Pairing: Apples, Cheese and Walnut based foods. Reason for pairing: This port-style wine will go well with the nut flavours and the almost musky flavours of the cheese. The wine is also rich enough to cut through any crisp apple flavours. 9. Raspberry Dessert Wine Rich, decadent, goes with chocolate, alcohol finish can cut through the chocolate, pure raspberry nose. Food Pairing: Almost anything with chocolate. Reason for pairing: The raspberry dessert wine is one of the few wines that will pair well with chocolate. A perfect match of intense flavours. 10. Black Currant Dessert Wine Candy pallet, lively, rich, inviting, pure black currant. Food Pairing: I recommend mixing it with a sparkling wine and enjoying it on its own. Reason for pairing: Black Currant liqueurs and Champagne are a famous pairing world-wide, known traditionally as a “Kir Royale”.