Wine and Food pairing: how to perfectly combine flavors

Tasting is a process through which it is possible to evaluate the organoleptic qualities of foods. In general terms, this term is often associated to wine evaluation metrics. The final goal of wine tasting is to find the right wine and food matching. It is not always a simple and intuitive evaluation. It requires a deep knowledge of the wine tasted as well as a strong sensibility to the organoleptic properties of the food served. In a tasting are in fact carefully evaluated the sensorial perceptions coming from the consumption of food and wine. An evaluation that allows to make some very important considerations. During a tasting are taken into consideration all the gustatory perceptions. These perceptions are nothing else than the reaction of mouth and taste buds when they get in contact with food and subsequently with wine. In a complete wine and food matching evaluation, besides palatal sensations, are also taken into consideration visual and olfactory ones (even though their weight is definitely lower than taste).

Recognizing the flavor of a food and the structure of a wine

Every food, be it liquid or solid, transmits a very varied bouquet of sensations. This means that every food has a precise sensorial spectrum. The sensorial spectrum of food, for example, takes into consideration the “sweetness” and the “softness” connected to the presence of “carbohydrates” (such as in flours, bread, pasta, etc…), but also includes proteins (of meat and legumes) and fats present in cold cuts. Another spectrum is the one connected to sapidity (such as in mature cheese and many cold cuts). There are also spicy and piquant flavors, characteristics connected to the nature of food itself, as well as to the type of cooking, salting and subsequent spicing.

However foods can also have an acidic tendency (as it sometimes happens for some vegetables, in particular after a specific type of cooking). A bitter tendency can be found in many meats, such as game, or in some vegetables or sauces. Lastly, do not forget succulence, fatness and unctuousness of some dishes. The term succulence refers to the high content of liquids in a dish (such as blood in meat). The last two properties are mainly found in cheeses, cold cuts and in many other types of meats.

As for sensations and tendencies aroused by the tasting of a wine, these are:

  1. Sapidity – sensation of minerality and saltiness
  2. acidity – sensorial perception of freshness and vivacity because of the non volatile acids present in the wine
  3. sweetness – it is the sensation of sweetness perceived because of the presence of a residual sugar in wine at the end of fermentation
  4. tannin – this refers to red wines
  5. smoothness – it is the sensation of delicacy and softness due to the presence of minerals, polyols and other substances dissolved in wine.

Wines sequence

Because of the remarkable importance nowadays recognized to cooking, wine and food matching has become fundamental. Besides personal taste, which is always a strictly personal consideration, we have seen there are objective considerations related to food and wine, concerning the sensorial tendencies that come out from their tasting, which must be evaluated.

Once the predominant sensations have been determined, both for wine and food, it is necessary to choose a gastronomical matching which is capable of enhancing their main properties. The suggestion is to look for balance between flavors and palatal sensations.

Wine and food pairing

When a wine is being chosen it is necessary to keep in mind that at every bite of the same food, taste buds send to the brain a less and less strong signal. This means that every mouthful of food is appreciated less and less. For this reason it is fundamental to choose the right wine, because tasting it means to clean up the mouth, stimulate again the taste buds and prepare them to a new bite. In this way every mouthful will be as good as the first one.

According to all this, it is also important the succession of wines at the table. Pleasure must be increasing, not decreasing. Therefore it is necessary to make sure the new wine served, will never make one regret the previous one.

An example of an appropriate succession

Usually the opening is done with a young wine and then it is concluded with older wines. Lighter wines are almost always served and then the more robust ones. White wines are served before red wines. The succession would also like the service to go from the freshest wines to serve the ones at room temperature. Dry wines are served before sweet wines, whereas the most prestigious wines, such as Amarone della Valpolicella, are to be served just after the simpler ones.

Abbinamento vino cibo: Amarone e Recioto

Wine and food matching for Amarone della Valpolicella needs to know the organoleptic properties of this renowned red wine. A wine having unique qualities which requires specific matchings in order to be tasted at its best. Even though it is considered as a meditation wine and therefore excellent to be tasted alone, it can be fully tasted during a meal where unique dishes are served.

With its strong flavor and intense aroma it perfectly matches with a selection of aged cheese (Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano and Monte Veronese). It is also excellent with red meat dishes (lamb, wild boar, game, veal), while in Verona it is typical with Amarone Risotto and with horse meat.

As for Recioto della Valpolicella, a wine having a deep garnet red color and an intense and very fine bouquet, the matching with food are very varied. It goes very well with desserts and fruit tarts, as well as chocolate. Excellent with traditional dry pastries. Ideal to accompany a tray of aged cheese, aged for more than 9 months, or blue cheese served with jams or mostarda.


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