Wine, with an 8000-year history, is perhaps the most complex drink in terms of taste. A good glass of wine affects your senses in different ways. (And, we’re not talking about the high, though that’s a good thing of course!) Because of the multiple sensations wine provides, connoisseurs have come up with a whole range of terms to describe it. Here they are:
- Acidity – This refers to the sourness of the wine. The more acidic a bottle of wine is, the better it will go with fattier and strongly flavored foods.
- Vintage – This simply refers to the year it was made. The same wine, from the same winery, is likely to taste differently each year. That’s because climatic conditions play a big role in how the wine in your glass looks, smells and feels on your palate.
- Single-Varietal Wine – This means that the wine is made from just one variety of grape. Again, the same varietal from different regions does not taste the same, due to the effect of soil and weather. In fact, even elevation, slope, and soil changes in the same locality will change the characteristics of the wine.
- Sweetness, or dryness – The sugars in the grapes are mostly converted into alcohol during the fermentation process. Some wines have absolutely no sugar at all and they are referred to as dry.
- Alcohol – Alcohol gives you the high of course, but it also adds a whole lot of sensations in your mouth. It burns the back of your throat, and it evaporates when you swirl it in your mouth, even rising to your nose.
- Tannin – Tannins are what give red wines their color, and is the cause of that astringent sensation. Kind of like the taste of sugarless black tea. Wines with more tannins are darker and more complex. The latter only means that the sensations in your mouth and nose are greater. Tannins are also what prevents a bottle of wine from spoiling. Therefore, wines with more tannins tend to age better.
- Body of Wine – This refers to how heavy the liquid feels on your tongue. Kind of like the difference between full-fat and skimmed milk.
The Five Principles for a Stunning Food & Wine Pairing
Just as a dash of salt or sugar brings out the flavors in a dish, a glass of wine amplifies the deliciousness of food. But that’s only when you get the pairing perfect. Get it wrong, and the wine can make good food taste bad, whereas the food can make the wine taste flat and bland.
The five principles that matter are:
- Go for congruent (complementary) pairings, like a dessert with a glass of sweet wine, or a lime-based salad dressing with an acidic wine.
- Go for contrasting pairings, where the flavor profiles of the food and wine stand in contrast to each other. A good example would be dry wine with a creamy, cheese-based gravy.
- The wine characteristic that you’ve based the pairing on should be stronger than that of the food. To explain, a sweet wine should be sweeter than the dessert.
- In a gravy dish, decide on a pairing based on the gravy, rather than the meat.
- In general, white wine hits it off best with white meat, while red wine gets along best with red meat.
Here are four food and wine pairings that are sure to be a blockbuster hit this Xmas.
Instant Pot Spaghetti Bolognese
Spaghetti bolognese in the Instant Pot is more moist and succulent. But it still is rich, with some fat, while the intensity of beef is softened by the other ingredients. A spicy and young Zinfandel can stand up to the richness of the dish and will be a good match.
On the other hand, a dry and slightly acidic white wine such as Pinot Gris, can cut through the richness of the dish, and cleanse the palate before every mouthful. This Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese recipe from Corrie Cooks is sure to have your guests reaching out for seconds. Along with more glasses of wine of course.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 cup beef broth
- 1 can crushed tomatoes 28 oz
- ½ tsp salt
- 12 oz spaghetti
- Switch the Instant Pot to Saute, and pour in the oil.
- Fry the beef until browned well. Remove, and place it aside.
- Throw in the onion, and saute for 3 minutes. Then put in the garlic, and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes.
- Put in the beef, as well as the crushed tomatoes.
- Crack the spaghetti in two, and put it in the Instant Pot, on top of the beef and tomatoes. Pour in the stock over the contents of the Instant Pot, ensuring that the spaghetti is fully submerged.
- Seal and cook for 7 minutes under high pressure.
- Release the pressure quickly.
- Stir for a couple of minutes to separate the pasta.
- Garnish with cheese and basil. Serve hot.
Instant Pot Mongolian Beef
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A full-on beef dish with bold, spicy flavors requires a wine with chutzpah. Red wines are a natural ally of beef, like a Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah will also pair exceptionally well. Go for the slightly bolder Californian or Australian Syrahs, and you can’t go wrong.
- 1 ½ lb flank steak/top round beef cut, sliced thin into strips
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ tsp fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup Hoisin sauce
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup green onion, chopped (as a garnish, if you like it)
- Dunk every ingredient in the Instant Pot.
- Seal the lid, and cook for 10 minutes under high pressure.
- Allow a natural pressure release.
- Stir, and serve over broccoli or rice.
Instant Pot Moroccan Fish
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White wines love white meat and vice versa. In addition, the delicate meat of seafood just begs for wines that are herbal and aromatic. A glass of Sauvignon Blanc or slightly sweet Riesling will have your loved ones raving. A dry Rosé would work just as well!
- ½ lb salmon fillet
- ½ tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ lb cherry tomatoes, crushed
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ tbs basil leaves, fresh, torn
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- Salt, as per your taste
- Put the Instant Pot into Saute mode, and pour in the oil.
- Saute the salmon fillets for 5 minutes, and then set aside.
- Put in the rest of the ingredients, and saute for around a minute.
- Add in the fish, seal the lid, and cook for 5 minutes under high pressure.
- Allow the steam to release naturally. Serve garnished with basil leaves.
Instant Pot Whole Chicken Chili
When you’re talking about Chicken Chilli, it makes sense to focus on the spiciness rather than the meat, because that’s the most intense flavor here. Spicy food matches best with sweet or acidic flavors. Chablis (an unoaked Chardonnay from Burgundy), is an excellent choice, especially due to the lower tannins. Other good options would be light-bodied white wines like dry a Riesling or Pinot gris.
- 2 lb whole chicken, without the neck and giblet
- 1½ tbs olive oil
- 1½ cups chicken broth, (homemade ideally)
- 3 green chilies, chopped
- 1 tbs cayenne pepper
- Pepper and salt, as per your taste
- Gently rub the cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt into the chicken to season it.
- Set the Instant Pot to saute, and pour in the oil.
- Saute the chicken for 6 minutes. Then keep aside.
- Pour in the chicken broth, and put in a trivet.
- Place the chicken on the trivet, and cook at high pressure for 25 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to dissipate naturally.
- Serve the chicken hot.
The perfect food and wine pairings are like a match made in heaven – simply sensational. Pick the ones above, and you can’t go wrong this Xmas. Which combination appears the yummiest to you? On the other hand, if you’d like to experiment, here’s the best guide on which wines to buy in 2021.