by Aaron Winsor
Hello Prince Albert!
Wine pairings can be one of the most challenging but rewarding aspects to wine appreciation but with a bit of practice and know-how, matching complimentary flavors to enhance your wine experience can be relatively simple. With a bit of practice and knowledge, you can learn to create harmonious combinations of wine, beer or spirits with food, cigars and even music!
The first step in pairing is to understand the flavors and textures present in the food, beverage or cigar you are attempting to pair with.
Take for instance a delicate meat like pickerel; bold, heavy wines like malbec, cabernet sauvignon or shiraz will probably overwhelm the food with too much flavor, too many tannins or too much body. Instead, consider the flavors that compliment fish when cooking, like lemon/citrus, herbs and butter. Wines that will pair successfully will need to reflect or enhance these tasting features. In this case, a sauvignon blanc or chardonnay is more ideal.
Another way to approach a pairing is by analyzing the flavors of the wine before selecting the complimentary pairing item.
After tasting a rich, flavorful Malbec earlier this week, I could almost taste the rich meaty flavors of a grilled steak. Alternately, the perfect cigar pairing would be a rich, well-fermented cigar like the Ashton VSG which features intense barnyard, chocolate and spicy tobacco notes.
Choosing music to partner with an intensely bold wine is also relatively straightforward as well.
Picture the bombastic style of Beethoven with the heavy notes of Malbec or one of my favorite rock bands: Iron Maiden, with its galloping triplet style and harmonized guitars.
Maybe you’re more of a jazz fan. Here, a pinot noir might be more suitable with its intricate subtleties and lingering notes of complexity. The notes repeat at first and then transform, revealing new structures or flavors underneath what at first sounded like a simple melody.
One of the simplest rules to follow when pairing any beverage with food is the clichéd but fitting line, “Red with red and white with white”. In other words, pair red wines with red meats and sauces and pair white wines with white meats and sauces.
There are of course several exceptions to this rule and some of the most exquisite pairings occur when seemingly opposite flavors collide and re-combine to create an unexpectedly harmonious combination.
Other specifics to consider when choosing a wine for pairing purposes are the amount of tannins, the body of the wine, acidity levels, flavor profile, sugar content and overall style of the wine.
Try putting on some music and pouring a glass of wine, then let your mind drift between the notes of the music and the flavors of the wine. It’s quite a rewarding experience, especially with a cigar in hand. Here are my wine picks of the week!
Trapiche Pure Black 2018: (Argentina). Off-dry red, deep purple color. The nose is high in intensity with juicy blackberries, cassis, grape-flavored bubble gum, ripe cherry fruit and vanilla.
This red is fruity and smooth right from the first sip and features dark fruits with a touch of vanilla on the mid palate. The medium-length finish adds hints of black pepper, blackberry, black grape skins and bread. This wine showcases an excellent balance of full-bodied fruit and medium-plus acidity with soft, medium tannins.
Pair with steaks, short ribs or cheeseburgers. Very good! $20, 14% ABV
Wolf Blass Maker’s Project Shiraz 2019: (Mclaren Vale/Grampians, Australia). Medium-dry red, medium to deep purple color. Intense, jammy scents of stewed cherries, jam-filled sugar cookies, raspberries, smoked ham and BBQ meat waft from the glass. Fruity sweetness and medium-plus body is felt first on the palate with fresh cherry juice, sweet grape skins, blueberries, sweet earth and barrel char.
The fruity flavor ends quickly, transitioning into bitter flavors of pressed stems and medium oak tannins. The finish is medium-length with mild pepper and cherry. Medium-plus acidity attempts to add balance but the wine tastes sweet, flabby and out of balance.
The countering flavors of sweetness and bitterness are not well-integrated meaning I wish I’d spent less on the bottle. Average! $25, 14% ABV
Cheers and thanks for reading!
Aaron Winsor is a Prince Albert resident who currently holds a WSET Level 3 certification in wine and will never turn down a good cigar or whisky. Check out his Instagram and Facebook page under Aaron The Wine Guy for wine, whisky and cigar reviews.