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Wine with food

harmonie de mets et vins (F)
vino e mangiare (I)
vino et manjar (ES)
vinho e comida (PO)
wine and food pairing (GB)

There is extensive literature on the subject of "the right wine to go with the meal" with recommendations that sometimes differ diametrically from each other. Even professionals often give quite different recommendations. So it doesn't matter which wine is drunk with which food? In principle, the very simple rule can apply: "It fits, what tastes". However, there are actually a number of dishes that virtually demand a certain type of wine. When enjoying several wines, there are some basic rules. However, the following remarks should at best only be understood as a suggestion, because drinking and eating wine is primarily a pleasure through the sensory organs and not a purely "objective" and measurable scientific matter.

Wedin zu Speisen - Rotweinglas und Rehbraten

Order of the wines

Basically, the order is the quality level of the wines, i.e. one starts with simple, light (mostly white) wines and increases to the "strongest wine". Long-lasting wines should ideally have reached the necessary drinking maturity or at best their peak, but this applies in principle to every occasion and not only to food. You can assume that this is the case in a good restaurant, but at home you must of course make the right choice yourself. As a conclusion(final wine) a noble sweet wine - for example a Trockenbeerenauslese - can be suitable. The four almost always suitable basic rules are

Wine list

When eating in the restaurant, you can get expert advice and have the "right wine" suggested. An important criterion for deciding whether a particular restaurant has the necessary qualifications is the wine list. Only if there is a larger selection, and not just four or five wines or perhaps even only "red or white wine", can one assume that the wine or drinking culture is cultivated in this restaurant. The following essay on the subject of "the right wine" was written by Frank Bläuel, former president of the "Club der Sommellerie Österreich" and owner of the "Berghotel Tulbingerkogel" in Mauerbach near Vienna (Austria), who holds this qualification to the highest degree. After all, the restaurant's extensive wine list includes 1,300 labels. This one writes:

Wein zu Speisen - Tulbingerkogel - Vinothek und Haupteingang

Season, occasion and mood

Not only the selected dishes influence the harmonizing drinks, but also the season, the time of day, the occasion of the meal, the number of people and of course the financial willingness to spend. Last but not least the mood or state of mind should not be underestimated. Everyone has experienced the phenomenon of holiday wine. What was an extraordinary drinking pleasure in the holiday country with the beloved partner in a romantic restaurant on the beach with soft music with palm trees and sunset and seduced to take a carton of the noble drop with you, now tastes horrible, dull and empty at home.

At this time of year, imagine a sunny day in August, a terrace or a picnic in the greenery; here it is certainly appropriate to have a white wine as light as possible, with a delicate acidity and elegant fruitiness. The opposite scenario is an evening in Advent, where a rather powerful red wine with aromas such as dried berries, eucalyptus and also light sweetness will fit the bill. At this time of day, the rule is almost automatically that lighter wines are preferred at lunchtime than in the evening. The term "breakfast wine" is often used for particularly light, low-alcohol wines, although you don't necessarily already enjoy a wine at breakfast. In the past, however, wine soups were also popular for breakfast in better circles.

The occasion is an important decision factor for the selection. If champagne Cuvée de Prestige is considered an everyday drink, what do you celebrate your birthday with? The number of dishes on a menu and the number of people at the table, if wine is not available by the glass, will result in reasonable economic quantities of different wines. A couple may want to cover the entire menu with one or two bottles of wine, with six to twelve people, one can certainly accompany each course with a wine, and with a higher number of guests, one bottle per course will not be sufficient. In case of a dinner, one can assume that half a liter (4 eighths) is drunk per person.

Berghotel Tulbingerkogel - kulinarische Zeitreise „Diner Historique“

Harmony of wine and food

Harmonie de mets et vins" is the mutual support of the taste of food and drink without mutual overlapping of flavours. As a matter of principle, wines should be tasted before deciding what to serve them with. The host or sommelier knows his wines in the cellar and can certainly give good advice. This "art" can be worked out empirically or you can rely on traditional combinations. One of these is the well-known rule "white wine goes with light meat and red wine goes with dark meat", with which one is certainly right in principle, although there are exceptions. Game dishes (i.e. dark meat) go well with strong, spicy red wines, especially hare, deer, roe deer and wild boar. However, white wines also go well with game birds with slightly lighter meat, such as a Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris with wild duck or a Riesling with pheasant.

Particular attention should be paid to the ratio of sweetness, acidity and bitterness. An acid accentuated wine is more aggressive due to sugar in any form. Sweetness and sweetness, on the other hand, harmonise; they do not add up, but cancel each other out. The tequila effect is interesting, because salt and acidity belong together in taste. Sugar and salt complement each other, because residual sugar in wine and salt in food (especially in cheese) balance each other out perfectly. On the other hand, bitter substances, as they occur in different types of vegetables, and tannin-emphasized wines should be avoided because they add up, while bitterness and residual sugar in wine go well together. Highly fatty foods are more digestible with wines that are rich in acidity, tannins and alcohol. (Source: A. Kohnen, International Wine Institute).

Wein zu Speisen - Hummer und Austern


A Sauvignon Blanc or a Muscadet sur lie from the Loire Valley are classic companions for fresh oysters on ice. Mussels and snails, on the other hand, go well with the Piedmontese DOCG white wine Gavi, Pinot Blanc or Chardonnay. Lobster cooked in its natural state harmonizes with white Burgundy, lobster in the Nage (French nage = floating, brew of frothy butter) or gratinated with extract-rich Chardonnays. With the well-known rule "white wines with fish and red wines with meat" you have to be a little more specific about the dishes. With many dishes the accompanying sauce plays a decisive role in the choice of wine.

Meat dishes

For meat dishes there are a variety, which are better accompanied with white wine. Light poultry with sparkling wine or champagne is delicious, but for pheasant breast in bacon shirt this combination is no longer ideal. A light red wine with few tannins or a strong, fruity white wine with a high total extract, as is also the case with veal, is better suited. For meat dishes with roast aromas (grilled or dark sauce), however, red wines are preferable. Goose liver goes well with strong, spicy white wines such as Chardonnay with barrique ageing, and from Auslese Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Gewürztraminer or noble sweet wines. And wine jelly goes very well with pâtés and cheese.

Wein zu Speisen - Steak und gebratene Ente


A very delicate subject is the mixing of salad with wine. As far as vinegar is concerned, the greatest caution should be taken; with acidic wines, there can be an "acid explosion" in the mouth. Problems also arise with artichokes (a strong Rotgipfler is suitable), with curry (only with sparing use are there suitable wines).

Fish dishes

Most fish, especially when they are steamed but also lightly fried, require white wine. Various fish dishes, especially those based on red wine sauce, but also preparations using meat stock harmonise better with light young red wines. Smoked fish, such as smoked salmon, is accompanied by rich, dry white wines such as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris or Chardonnay, or, for particularly festive occasions, a Chablis (Chardonnay), white Hermitage (cuvée from Marsanne, Roussanne), Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) or, to top it all off, a champagne or sparkling wine.

Wein zuz Speisen - geröstete Heuschrecken und gegrillter Fisch


In Asia and Africa, insects have been on the menu for thousands of years and are a valued source of protein and vitamins. It was unimaginable just a few years ago, but they have now also arrived in Europe. In many European countries, there are already restaurants offering such products. There are about 2,000 edible insect species worldwide. The protein content of grasshoppers is about three times higher than that of chicken. Since 2018, insects have been covered by the EU Regulation on Novel Foods. For wine lovers, the question arises as to which drop should be served to locusts (left), mealworms and crickets. Fried insects have relatively little taste of their own. Therefore, they do not go well with aromatic and not with acidic white wines such as Pinot Blanc or Chasselas. Red wines, on the other hand, cover too much, especially those aged in barriques.

Mushroom dishes

As with many other dishes, the right wine always depends on the preparation and also on the type of mushroom. Mushroom dishes, such as mushrooms, are usually accompanied by delicate, fruity white wines or elegant red wines low in tannins. If porcini mushrooms are prepared completely pure, they harmonise very well with grape varieties such as Riesling, Pinot Blanc or Chardonnay. Acid-emphasized white wines or tannin-emphasized red wines destroy the fine mushroom flavour and can cause an unpleasant, metallic taste. Mushrooms with intensive aromas such as truffles tolerate strong, noble red wines, but also sweet wines.

Wein zu Speisen - Käseplatte und Champignons


An often asked question is whether, in a "big" menu with several courses, the (sweet) dessert or the cheese is served first. It is important to know that the often used statement "cheese closes the stomach" only refers to the fact that cheese is served after the main course and not perhaps as a starter - but it is not necessarily the last course. The correct order "first cheese, then the(sweet) dessert" is logically due to taste reasons. Because after every dessert and a sweet wine served with it, every cheese tastes only bitter and every dry wine - with cheese - only sour

The cheese theme is a real "playground" for exciting combinations with wine. Here you can do almost nothing wrong, so to speak. Some general rules are: White mould cheese goes well with strong white wine such as a Riesling or Grüner Veltliner of a good vintage. Cheese with a washed rind (red smear cheese) harmonises with non-sweet Gewürztraminer or Muscatel. Blue cheeses are best supported by noble sweet wine, goat cheese goes very well with a dry white wine or a fresh red wine such as young Beaujolais, and hard cheese is best served with a strong red wine.

Dessert, sweets and ice cream

Sweet desserts are harmonized with especially noble sweet white wines, which also show fruity acidity and bitter tones as a contrast. A particular speciality is wine ice from grape variety wines, for example Chardonnay ice cream. Sweet wines such as Ruster Ausbruch or Malvasia delle Lipari go well with chocolate).

Wein zu Speisen - Süßspeisen (Tiramisu und Speiseeis)


The enjoyment of wine and cigar can be a perfect combination, for which there are some rules, as with the subject matter "which wine with which food". The taste of the cigar influences the taste of the wine. The temperature also plays an important role, too cold wine usually makes the cigar appear very sour. As with wine, the origin of cigars also plays an important role. See also under Cigars.

Wine enemies

With certain foods, spices and fruits, you have to be particularly careful in choosing the right wine to accompany them. Some of them can even be called true "wine enemies", because they do not go well with wine at all. In such cases, a wine, no matter how good it is, may not come across to its full advantage or even appear disappointing. These include above all dishes or ingredients with a high acid content, or which are very strongly spiced, fat and oily. These include pineapple, artichokes, chicory, chilli, curry, egg dishes, ice cream, vinegar, fruit sorbets, herring, currants, mayonnaise, oil sardines, oranges, cranberries, salty dishes, sour salads, chocolate, spinach and citrus fruits.

Weinfeinde - Sardinen, Speiseeis, Eier, Artischocken

Wine friends

In contrast, however, there are relatively many foods, spices and fruits that harmonize particularly well with wine and can therefore be called "wine lovers". These can be combined relatively easily and unproblematically with a suitable wine. These include, for example, oysters, bananas, pears, strawberries, meat of all kinds, blueberries, raspberries, lobster, cheese of all kinds, mango, seafood of all kinds, pâtés, smoked salmon and peppers (end of quote Frank Bläuel).

Weinfreunde - Muscheln, Paprikaschoten, Käse, Hummer

Further information

Under the heading of wine enjoyment, there is a comprehensive description of how to store and open the bottles, decanting, selecting the right wine glasses and pouring. The term food pairing refers to dishes that harmonise particularly well with each other (e.g. white chocolate and caviar). With regard to alcoholic drinks "before the meal" and "after the meal", see under Aperitif and digestif. A cooking wine must never be of inferior quality and certainly not flawed. The collector François Audouze organises special dinners for wealthy lovers of old, exquisite wine rarities. For more information, see also the section on wine, wine evaluation, wine list, wine cellar and wine temperature, and drinking culture.

Wein ZTu Speisen - Berghotel Tulbingerkogel - Familie Frank Bläuel - Mauerbach bei Wien - Gesamtansicht

Food pictures: pixabay
Source: Frank Bläuel - Berghotel Tulbingerkogel

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