Concha y Toro

Ania Smolec 27/01/2017

8 challenging food and wine pairings


As you already know, the weight and flavors of the dishes create complementary and sometimes contradictory pairings. But not all foods get along with wine. Today we will talk about those forbidden and complicated relationships.

1. The guilt of the mysterious cinnarine

artichokesSome vegetables, such as artichokes, spinach, sorrels and asparagus, contain a molecule called cinnarine, which is the main culprit in failed pairings between food and wine. Our taste buds feel a metallic and unpleasant aftertaste or, in some cases, a too-sweet flavor. In front of the artichoke, for example, wine always loses.

For a correct wine pairing we must eliminate red and white barrel aged wines. I also recommend you considering some other ingredients which soften the effect of cinnarine. Do not forget the sauces like the hollandaise. Or cheese, cream or raw meat. A good share of protein and umami flavor can give another dimension to a pairing with artichokes or asparagus. In this case, a mineral wine, such as Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay is an appropriate choice.

From Italians we learn how to prepare the artichokes in a risotto, whose grease reduces the metallic sensation. And from the French we inherit the artichauts a la barigoule, roasted and stuffed with mushrooms, onion and spices. This recipe is a perfect side dish to fish or red meat. And it works very well with Casillero del Diablo Pinot Noir.

2. Ab ovo

eggsEggs by themselves do not get along with wine, but our pairing can work if we add other components, for example by preparing a sandwich with scrambled or poached eggs, a fried egg with potatoes or, why not, a Nicoise salad.

Eggs have an intense aroma and flavor, especially hard-boiled eggs. Therefore, they interfere with the correct perception of the wine. But when we add other ingredients and spices, things get better. If you do not believe me try a shrimp soufflé with Casillero del Diablo Devil’s Collection White or hard-boiled eggs stuffed with tuna salad with Casillero del Diablo Rosé.

3. Annoying smoke

jamon ahumadoThe aroma and taste of smoked aliments, as in the case of meats, fish and cheese, not only intensify the weight and flavor of proteins, but tend to dominate the scene in our mouth. It is so predominant that it covers the taste of the wines and, in the case of wines with smoky notes, makes this feature stand out even more. The way to escape from this situation is to uncork some aromatic varieties. For example, for fish and cheese, I recommend Casillero del Diablo Pinot Grigio, and for sausages, Casillero del Diablo Pinot Noir.

4. Spiciness

comida picanteSome of the most difficult tastes to create a good pairing with are spicy dishes, as is the case of some oriental cuisines. Indian or Thai recipes contain many spices, and even very hot chilies, which definitely crash with the wines.

The hot spices highlight the tannins and the alcohol of the wines, making them more aggressive. And vice versa. The wine increases the burning sensation on our palate. It’s like putting out gasoline on the fire. Therefore, we are facing a vicious circle.

If the dish is too spicy, I recommend lowering the grades and accompanying it with a beer or, as is done in the Far East, with a cup of tea. The other antidote is to focus on the sugar in the wines. For spicy dishes I recommend a semi-sweet wine like Frontera Moscato. The sweetness of the wine mitigates the itchiness in our palate. It is like our fireman.

5. Nuts

frutos secosPistachios, hazelnuts and chestnuts are not the most favorable food for wines, especially when they are toasted. The risk is great, because they remind us a defect that appears in wines: the so-called cork aroma. The healthiest thing to do is to skip these ingredients or replace them with nuts and almonds.

6. Cocoa

chocolateChocolate is undoubtedly the most delicious ingredient in the world. But I’m sorry. Cocoa contains so many tannins that it is very difficult to live in harmony with the tannins present in the wine. In this conflict, one of them must give way. The best thing to do is to choose a wine with a lower tannic load, so instead of young full bodied reds like Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s better to choose the same strains but from some older vintages, with at least 5 years of aging, when the tannins are more smooth.

If we want to mitigate the impact of chocolate, the most natural way is to add a little bit of dairy components like cream, milk chocolate, whipped cream, dessert sauce, or simply add fruits like raspberries, blueberries or blackberries. The best solution is to choose a wine with power, not only with a great alcohol and tannic structure, but also with a high level of sugar.

7. Marinades and vinaigrettes

vinagretaMarinated pickle food or fermented foods, such as cucumbers, mushrooms, plums, beets or herring, are the perfect hors d’oeuvres. Its flavors are so intense, that in Central Europe are traditionally served with vodka. And the discussion is over. The acidity of the vinegar is a nightmare for the wine and, in the specific case of herring; we have to add the fat of the fish. It’s too much for a wine.

Vinegar is also the basis of the emulsions or sauces that we use for our salads. This intense taste breaks the balance between the acidity and the sweetness of the wine. It is very noticeable in the case of reds. To make this challenge work, the wine must be firm and dry, even with astringent tannins and high acidity. My trick is to replace the apple or white vinegar with a raspberry one or add a drop of honey to provoke a counterpoint with its acidity. We can also prepare a dressing for salad based on white wine or simply lemon juice.

8. Mint

mintIf you want to evaluate and understand a wine well, you must leave aside the products with intense aromas, such as perfumes and cigarette smoke. We should also avoid eating garlic, drinking an espresso or consuming mint, both toothpaste and chewing gum.

Mint is very good for digestion, but it has nothing to do with wine. The molecule of menthol does not make the wine more beautiful than it is. Quite the opposite. Some experts argue that a dessert with mint must be accompanied with a wine that has sweetness, a rich aroma and intense acidity. That is very personal. In my case, I say noto the mint. Yes. Firmly.