How to match wine with food

Matching wines with foods; the best ways to serve wine

Today people feel free to drink the wines they enjoy without being bound to strict codes. Nevertheless, combinations that have evolved over time continue to provide useful guidelines.

Traditionally, fish and light meats, such as chicken and veal, are accompanied by a dry white wine. But a light-bodied red, such as Beaujolais, is also a good choice. In general, the more delicately flavored the fish or meat, the lighter the wine can be.

Red wines usually accompany red meats, such dark-meat birds as duck, pasta dishes, hearty soups, and the cheese course. The richer the dish, the more full bodied the wine should be.

A sweet white wine, such as Sauterne, Barsac, Muscat, or late-harvest Riesling, is usually served as an accompaniment to dessert (except those of chocolate) or simply on its own.

Some foods don’t go with wine at all. Anything very spicy, such as curry or hot Szechuan dishes, overpowers all but the most distinctive wines. So also do foods heavy with salt or vinegar.

When serving different wines for succeeding courses, sequence is important. One moves from lighter to richer, more complex wines as the meal progresses-white before red, young before old, dry before sweet.

The best way to serve wines

All white and pink wines are served chilled. Dry and medium-dry Sherries and light reds, such as Beaujolais and Camay, can be served slightly chilled. All other red wines are served at room temperature (ideally 65°F to 68°F). Many red wines, especially less mature ones, improve if opened an hour or so before serving.

Older red wines often contain sediment. The bottle should be set upright several hours before pouring. It’s a good idea also to decant an older wine by pouring it into a clean carafe. Set a strong light or a candle behind the wine so that you can see the sediment. Stop pouring as soon as sediment approaches the bottle’s neck.