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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.

Food and Wine Pairing – Creating The Third Flavor

Posted: August 11, 2007
by: Susan Anderson

Traditionally, food and wine pairing has been made either far too easy, “drink whatever you like” or limited to “red wine with meat, white wine with fish”. Or way too complex, using only the “proper matches”.  Food and wine is meant to be savored and enjoyed, since one enhances the other.

The basic idea of food and wine is to fuse the two flavors together to create a third. And magic can happen when you combine the two.  So lets discuss some simple guidelines to use when searching for that perfect bottle of wine to accompany a meal.

The main consideration of any match is to balance the flavor and texture of the food with the flavor and texture of the wine. Similarity of flavors between wine and food makes for pleasant combinations. Use a flavor component of a wine by using it in the meal: say the mushroom, truffle flavors of Pinot Noir can be matched by using mushrooms in a sauce.


Texture is the tactile experience your tongue has when it encounters the sensations of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and fat. Because textures are recognized on a very basic level of the senses, their influence is often stronger than defined flavors. Here are some guidelines to use when picking out a wine:

Sweet – The sweetness of a dish should always be less than the sweetness of the wine. Otherwise, the palate cannot perceive the fruit in the wine and it seems thin,

tart or bitter.

Sour – Always make sure acid levels are less than the wine, such as salad with a vinaigrette. If a wine doesn’t have more acid, it will seem flat or dull.

Salty – Salt and acid oppose one another well. Salty foods go well with high acid wines. Say, smoked salmon with Sauvignon Blanc or Champagne. Salt also opposes bitter, reducing the perception of tannin or bitterness in food or wine.

Bitter – Bitter foods such as oil-cured olives will diminish the perception of bitterness from the tannins in young red wine, allowing the fruit flavors to show.

Fat – Cheese is often served at red wine tastings, because the fat in the cheese coats the palate and lessens the palate of tannins or bitter flavors. High-fat foods generally require the intensity of rich wines to balance them.

The richer the food, the richer the wine should be that accompanies the meal for everything to remain in balance. For instance, a full-flavored reserve-style California Chardonnay would overwhelm the delicate flavors of Dover sole, but this wine is wonderful with grilled wild salmon and lemon butter.

And finally,  brilliant combinations can be made by using contrasting rather than similar, flavors or textures. A famous contrasting match is salty Stilton cheese served with sweet Port. Visit GourmetStation wine shop for a selection of wines already paired with the appropriate entrée. Enjoy!

Susan Anderson

Your Comments

This was a great article. I have never heard it put this way and am inspired to create some third flavors of my own!
Thank You.

Posted by: Dawn Sanodmeno at Aug 12, 2007 8:54:11 AM