Matching old wines with food can appear difficult. Old wines tend to lose their structure and body but gain in complexity.
Here are some general rules to follow to help you choose the most suitable dishes:
In-order to preserve your taste buds, you should avoid sweet wines and opt rather for White wines, Roses or Champagne.
Champagne will awaken your taste buds. Serve a Brut, Extra-Brut or a Rose. The bubbles are aromatic and give the impression of freshness and complexity.
Charcuterie: The tannins in the wine are softened, by the fatty character of the charcuterie therefore, charcuterie needs to be paired with a fresh red wine, such as a light Pinot Noir from Burgundy or a Chanti Classico or a fruity Barbera.
Foie gras: Match the finesse and soft texture of foie gras with a sweet wine, such as Sauternes.
Pates and terrines: Made from pork or poultry, choose a light red such as a Beaujolais villages or a Swiss Pinot Noir. If made with game, with stronger flavours: a light Crozes-Hermitage, Coteaux du Languedoc, Humagne red or Sangiovese.
Matching wine with soup in not recommended as when two liquid forms meet it risks giving the sensation of satiety at the beginning of the meal.
Salads are not easy to match with wine and vinegar based seasoning doesn’t help matters. If anything keep your aperitif glass with you and hold off opening a new bottle at this stage.
Shellfish: Oysters or other shellfish with a full texture go well with tart wines, furthermore the delicate salty flavours require an elegant wine, not overly aromatic, such as a Muscadet because the iodine gives this very light-style wine more character and length.
If prepared with butter or a cream sauce, oysters and shellfish need a white wine matured in oak barrel, whether it be a Burgundy, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, from Bordeaux or Alsace.
Trout: trout has subtle, delicate flavours, which requires an elegant white wine with flavours that don't overpower it. Chasselas is an excellent option for fish.
Fresh pan-fried salmon, cooked on its skin : A white wine with fresh acidity to counter the oily character of the fish. A dry Riesling or a dry Vouvray.
Grilled Salmon: A wine with fresh acidity but slightly more round than the last one, such as a Humagne white or a red from the Loire Valley.
Smoked Salmon: Champagne Blanc de Blancs, dry in style,such as aChablis Grand Cru or a Sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley. Be careful with oaked wines as the slight bitter notes of smoked salmon can clash with the oaky flavours of the wine.
Sole with a butter or cream sauce: Sole is quite oily and if served with a creamy sauce, the white wines needs to be more elegant and dense in-order to not clash with the sauce and its texture. White wines which have good acidity (younger wines) with body and volume.
Red Tuna: White and red wine can give complexity and length, which add to the flavours of Tuna.
Duck Breast: the strong flavour of the meat and the fatty texture of the duck breast (smooths out the tannins in the wine and requires good acidity) go well with wines with character, such as; Saint-Emilion of a Vaqueyras.
Lamb: this strong flavoured meat goes well with an aromatic, spicy, round style wine with well-integrated tannins such as a Chateauneuf-du-Pape or a Ribera del Duero. If cooked in its juices, you will require a more powerful style wine with acidity to balance out the flavours of the juice: Syrah, wine from Southern Rhone, Brunello di Montalcino or Amarone.
Beef: slight bitter notes from grilling require a round wine, which has structure and tannins: A mature Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion or Pomerol. If served in its juices you should match it with a well-structured wine such as a very good Chianti Classico. If served in a sauce, the wine should be structured with firm tannins such as a Barolo or a Barbaresco.
Pork: pork has subtle flavours and is difficult to match with tannic wines; Opt for a wine that is full-bodiedwithout high tannins, like a Cote de Beaune.
If red wine is more common with cheese, you can also look at regions, matching the cheese with the wine from that region, such as Comté with Vin Jaune, Goat's cheese with dry, white wine from the Loire Valley, such as Sancerre or Vouvray, Raclette with red wine from Savoie, such as Rousette.
A Margaux: The cheese course is the ideal moment to serve a Gran vin from Bordeaux, like Margaux. Its fruity aromas are highlighted when accompanying a Saint-Nectaire or a sheep's cheese from the Pyrenees.
A Saint-Emilion: As with Margaux, Saint-Emilion is also a prestigious Bordelais wine. Cru Classé or not, this red has great finesse. Ideally wait several years before you taste it: its tannins will have softened and it will be a perfect match with cheese.
A Medoc: Tannic and round, the wines of Medoc have a very deep hue and aromas of black fruit and spicy notes that will go harmoniously with the round, creamy character of the cheese.
Sweet wines with a dessert work well for the most part but there are some exceptions.
Chocolate or coffee desserts with natural bitterness require special "treatment" when matching with wine. To highlight a chocolate dessert, it's better to serve a mature red. Which is powerful, rich with toasty notes, roasted coffee bean notes, like a Pommard.
If you wish to serve Champagne it's best to avoid serving a young Champagne brut. Serve a Rose Champagne demi-sec or sec with a red-fruit tart or a blanc de blancs demi-sec with fruit ice cream or with sorbets.
The ideal wine to pair with these dishes is dependant on which sauce you serve it with, but generally a red wine of average tannins and good acidity is the most appropriate such; as a Chianti, made uniquely from the Sangiovese grape variety.
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