In the United States, we like to change it up and eat foods from just about everywhere - Italian, French, Spanish, Asian, Middle Eastern, South American, and the classic dishes of our own country as well. American dishes are often specialties of certain parts of the country, but we don’t really use the “grows together, goes together” guideline for pairing, as they would in other parts of the world. For people living elsewhere, certain pairings, particularly those native to their regions, seem like common sense. For us, it isn’t so simple.
That’s why I spend almost as much time researching foods and recipes as I do researching grape types and wine producing regions. If we learn where a particular food, ingredient, or recipe has its origins, we can then find the proper pairing, and often, the wines produced in the region where the food is produced or the recipe originates are a perfect match. This is particularly evident with wine and cheese pairing. Find out where the cheese is produced - then find out which wines are produced in that area. For example, chevre, or fresh goat cheese, is produced mainly in France’s Loire Valley. Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley is a perfect pairing with fresh goat cheese, so look for labels that read “Sancerre,” “Pouilly-Fume,” or “Menetou-Salon” - those are where good French Sauvignon Blanc is mainly produced. Munster cheese is mainly produced in the Alsace region. The classic pairing? Gewurztraminer, also from Alsace.
|Pouilly-Fume - Sauvignon Blanc from Loire Valley|
Pairings can get a bit more challenging when a dish has many ingredients, particularly bolder flavors - but with some research on the origins of the dish, we can simplify the pairing process. Cassoulet, for example, is a dish from southern France. Earthy reds with bolder fruit and spice and some funky earthiness are found in southern French wine regions - Rhone, Languedoc-Roussillon, and Sud-Ouest reds are often perfect pairings with a dish like cassoulet.
|Cahors - Malbec from Sud-Ouest|
It takes a bit of research to find the perfect pairing, but it’s worth it - when a food and wine are correctly paired, the sensation is better than what we’d perceive with just the food or the wine on its own. And if we use the “grows together, goes together” guideline when doing our research, it really is common sense.