Last night, as I sat down to a simple dinner of roasted Atlantic King salmon and garlicky asparagus, I couldn't help but notice the color of the wine I poured for myself matched the pink hue of the salmon perfectly.
The wine was Mumm Napa Valley Brut Rosé non-vintage sparkling wine ($24 a bottle at the Mumm Napa website and I've seen it cheaper at Trader Joe's). With it's bright strawberry notes and dry finish, this pink bubbly was a tasty compliment to my meal.
And it got me thinking about how I go about pairing food with wine. Unless you are color-blind, my approach might work for you too.
I match the color of the food (or the main element of the dish) to the color of the wine, such as:
white fish like cod or halibut and yellowish foods like quiche, corn, and squash with a white wine pale yellow/straw in color like a Californian Sauvignon Blanc;
green foods like salads, avocado, and herb dips with a white wine that has grassy notes and might be so pale in color it has a greenish tinge like Vinho Verde or Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand;
white/grayish foods like oysters or fried fish served with tartar sauce go well with a minerally Chablis or sparkling brut;
cheesy pasta, roast chicken, or quinoa salad with a deep straw/golden hued wine like a medium-bodied Chardonnay;
pink foods like a summer salad of watermelon, tomato and feta and salmon, shrimp, or pork go nicely with rosé;
red meat, pasta with red wine or red meat sauce, pizza with tomato sauce go well with Bordeaux varietals, Zinfandel, or Italian red wines;
Pinot Noir is great with duck and seared ahi, but I drink it with almost everything.
As for spicy curries and multi-colored food like Mexican cuisine, skip wine and have a beer instead.
Also, if you are cooking with wine or making a wine reduction sauce, use the same wine you intend to enjoy with your meal. I often make risotto; if I want to drink Cabernet Sauvignon with it, I'll simmer it in Cab. If I want to drink Pinot Noir with it, I'll use Pinot (and so on). If I had used a dry white wine (which is what most risotto recipes call for), the dish would not have paired well with red wine.
Although this color-matching method works for me, the best wine and food pairing advice is to drink whatever makes you happy. And as the singer Pink says, raise your glass!
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