Here's a Dinner Party Idea For You
Let's set the scene.
You are in a rush. Friends are coming over and you need some wine with dinner. You start by going to your favorite wine store. While there you explain your meal and ask for a wine pairing recommendation. The clerk then recommends three wines, instead of one, and you take them home with a huge smile on your face. Then it hits you. Is one better than the other? Will one be better to serve first? Is there an order to serving them? Which one will I serve?
You could be concerned about the wine and food pairing, or you could print a tasting guide place card (below) for each guest and interject a new level of interactive fun and excitement into your dinner party. How about that?
There are roughly eight types of wine and food pairings that you'll need to consider. These texture, structure, and weight attributes are called "Matching and the Seven Cs of Pairing" and are documented in the book Pairing With The Masters, by Master Chef Ken Arnone and Master Of Wine, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan.
Match (verb) - Make or be harmonious.
A matching pairing is when all three parts of the food; structure, weight, and texture are well-matched with the wine. You can tell a matching pairing when you pop a bite of food and sip some wine and can taste all the flavors you put in your mouth.
Compliment (noun) - A polite expression of praise or admiration.
A complementary pairing is when a dish and a wine share similar flavors or just one similar flavor and a bridge is built between the food and the wine. You can tell a complementary food and wine pairing when there's a flavor in the food and the wine that's identical.
Contrast (noun) - the state of being strikingly different from something else.
A contrasting pairing is a positive reaction to when you experience opposite flavors, structure, and texture in a wine from the dish or in the dish from the wine. You can tell when there's a contrasting food and wine pairing in your mouth because the flavors stand out more than if they were consumed alone.
Compound (noun) - A thing that is composed of two or more separate elements; a mixture.
A compounding pairing is when the flavor, structure, or texture of the wine or the food changes. You can tell a compounding pairing when there's a consistent flavor, texture, or structure between a bite of food and a sip of wine that becomes amplified as a result.
Complex (verb) - Make a compound form a complex with another.
More flavor, structure, or textures are added. The synergy that's created from a complexing food and wine pairing makes the whole experience taste more elegant and expensive. The way to tell if you are experiencing a complexing food and wine pairing is when the flavor, structure, and textures of the wine and food join together to create something new in your mouth. This is the holy grail of food and wine pairings.
Cleanse (verb) - Make something thoroughly clean.
When the acid in the wine cuts the fat in the food. You can tell when you are experiencing a cleansing food and wine pairing when you taste a refreshing, cleansing sensation in your mouth. An amuse bouche, a free starter that's sometimes offered by a restaurant which does not include wine, is typical of the cleansing variety and sets the stage for the coming meal.
Cover (verb) - Put something such as a cloth or lid on top of or in front of (something) in order to protect or conceal it.
When one flavor covers the others. This is one of the easiest food and wine pairings to detect. You can tell when you have a covering food and wine pairing when you cannot taste all the flavors that you put into your mouth. By individually eating a bite of food and having a sip of wine, the true, individual flavors, textures, and structures can be discovered.
Clash (Noun) - A mismatch.
Bad or negative tastes. There is often an immediate response to a clashing pairing. Sometimes it's hard to avoid when playing this game, but it's part of the fun, so don't get too upset. Focus on the fact that you are defining your tastes and that cannot be done without tasting a few clashing food and wine pairings along the way.
Wine & Food Pairing System
Now that you are aware of all the different texture, weight, and structure nuances, it's time to have fun. Print out a card for each guest and while drinking each bottle with the food, have your guests keep track of their "score" on the card. At the end, tally up the results and discuss. You'll learn more about your personal preferences, and even more important, you'll learn about the preferences of your guests.