Drink Red Wine With Red Meat

Having worked in a number of restaurants, I was usually asked my suggestions on how best to pair a glass or bottle of wine with a meal selection. What surprised many of my guests was that I didn't always follow the rule of pairing red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat. There are a few reasons why, and here they are:

You Don't Have to Follow Tradition
The biggest thing to remember is that just because people have been pairing wine and food a certain way for however long doesn't mean you have to do so. You'll be eating and drinking the selection, and if you think the Riesling sounds great with the New York strip, that's your business and nobody else's. Don't let people looking at you funny discourage you from branching out and trying new and different wines with your meal, even if the pairing you select is something a little out of the ordinary.

Wine Flights
Wine flights are very popular at many wine intensive restaurants, as they let the restaurant offer a small selection of complimentary wines at a slightly increased price in the hopes that you will buy a glass or bottle of one of the small samples you tried. More and more, restaurants are pairing wine flights with their meals, as it benefits their bottom line. One thing to notice is that most wine flights offer differing types of wine, be it a range of chiantis, a range of chardonnays, or a range of Italian, Australian, French, or Californian wine, which can include both red and white wine.

Using wine flights is a really great way to find out if that really dry chardonnay will actually go well with your medium rare porter house while letting you try some other wines that might also work. Don't be intimidated just because you don't recognize every type of wine in a flight. Branching out and trying new things is part of the fun of wine drinking.

Compliment or Contrast
Part of the art of pairing wine and food is deciding whether you want the food to compliment or contrast the food you're offering. While you might be offering a sirloin that one would normally pair with a nice dry red, if you've spiced that same sirloin with peppers or seasoning that raises the heat of the steak, you may want to pair it with a white wine that will help cut that spice and make the entire dining experience more enjoyable.

While there's nothing wrong with having your wine compliment the meal you've prepared, picking a wine that contrasts your food is a great way to broaden your horizons and to find new and exciting way to enjoy your food and your wine, which is really the most fun of pairing food and wine.

Blended Wines
Blended wines can mean anything from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio to something like a White Zinfandel or a Rose'. Blended wines like a Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio blend are unique in that they offer aspects of both wines, depending on the ration of each. White Zinfandel and Rose' add another dimension in that they can pair well with many different food options because of their unique flavor profiles. While many guys might not want to be caught drinking pink wine, don't rule out a good Rose' to go with something like prime rib if you're interested in trying something new.

Do What You Want
When it all comes down to it, it's your money and your palate. Only you can really know what you like and what you think will taste best. Don't let anybody tell you differently and don't be afraid to experiment both at restaurants and at home. Trying a new or different pairing at home can often be a better way to find out that something doesn't pair well instead of at a restaurant where you're then stuck with something that doesn't taste as good as it sounded at first.

About the Author
George R Perry is the mind behind the $20 Sommelier, a blog specializing in affordable wine reviews and wine advice for the wine lover on a budget.

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