Food and wine matching

Black Velvet (h)

One of the greatest foodie pleasures is in preparing a meal for friends. And if you’re going to the trouble of making a feast, you might as well do it justice by getting the drinks right too.

I’m not simply talking about cracking open a nice bottle of wine – it’s about working out which variety best complements a particular dish. Experimenting and keeping note of successful pairings is the best way to work out what you like – but in the short term, there are basic guidelines that should help you get started with food and wine matching.

First of all, pair like with like; food and wine should be equally balanced, with neither overpowering the other. If the recipe you’re making is packed with strong flavours, try a similarly bold wine, such as a Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re making a dish with a delicate, crisp flavour, try pairing it with a light Soave or Sauvignon Blanc.

If in doubt, consider choosing a wine from the same country as the dish you’re making. So if you’re serving up spaghetti Bolognese, an Italian Chianti should do the trick, while posh fish and chips would go beautifully with a crisp glass of Kentish sparkling white.

For a helping hand, look out for fantastic wine suggestions on some favourite Real Food recipes. For example, you’ll see we recommend a Finest Old Vines Tempranillo with this chicken and herb bake, and the La Leyenda Malbec Syrah with this duck breast and spiced orange recipe.

And remember, it’s not just about wine – cocktails have their place too, especially with canapés. Try serving a shandy ginger (containing vodka, pale ale and ginger beer) as a pre-dinner drink to your waiting guests. Enjoy!

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