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Forget the hocus-pocus. The basic principle is that fuller-bodied wines – your strong dry reds mainly -- are for heavier foods; and lighter wines go with lighter foods. Think of it as harmony in a recipe. For example, no matter how much salt you like to use, you don’t want it to be the prominent flavor. It’s the same with wine: you want the wine to be in harmony with the dish you’re serving, not overpowering it. They simply should taste good together.
And taste, as we know, is a matter of taste. If you think a particular wine goes well with a certain food, go for it. Don’t worry about the rules, but we know you're looking for some rules so here goes.
Top 5 rules for pairing and drinking wine every day.
1. If a recipe calls for wine – serve the same wine for drinking, it’s a food pairing question, actually. It’s a matter of harmony and continuity.
2. Always use wine in your recipe that you would drink, not “cooking wine.”
3. Don't spend more than $8- $15 for a good every day wine. It needn’t cost more. If you want to give yourself a little treat once in a while, spend $20-$25 on something interesting. – you can always step it up for Shabbat and guests.
4. When you plan your week’s dinners, plan the wines to go with it. Let’s say you have fish on Sunday night, meat on Tuesday, just think through which wines will go with them and include those in your shopping list.
5. It’s not the basic food in the dish that matters. It’s the way you prepare it that decides which wine would bring out its best flavors. It’s a question of the predominant flavor. Pasta by itself is neutral. But it makes all the difference if you serve it with tomato sauce, cream sauce or combined with another ingredient with a strong taste.
Now for some specifics...
1. Sauvignon Blanc --find one that is dry, but fruity and fresh, sort of a sweet lemon dry. It would be great with a salmon pasta dish.
2. Chardonnay -- compared to the Sauvignon Blanc, it has a fuller body, more fruit, and it’s drier in one respect. But it’s what we call “rounder,” that is softer and slightly less acidic on the tongue. If your pasta’s got a white cream sauce, as in Fettucine Alfredo, it’s perfect.
3. Chenin Blanc would be good if the pasta has a creamy tomato sauce with a slight acidic kick and some sweet overtones. It’s a little off-dry.
4. Chianti would be best with a rich, heavy tomato sauce. This is a red wine from Tuscany.
5. Prosecco – a sparkling wine from Italy -- is dry, fresh and light. It goes really well with a nice light salmon dish.
6. Pino Grigio - one that is light and fruity is perfect for a light flaky fish.