Bon Appetit and Cheers!

By: Henry Jansen

Did you know that Food and Wine Pairing is completely subjective!? For instance, people who eat spicy food experience wine in a completely different way than someone who eats pasta and potatoes! 

From here on out, we are going to break down the different components that contribute to the glorious combination that is Food and Wine.


Each section of the tongue has taste buds of different intensities.

–The tip senses sweetness = fruit, alcohol, sugar


–The front sides sense salt

–The back sides sense acid

–And very back is very bitter


The palate is located at top of mouth close to throat, this area is sensitive and connects to the nasal cavity...


The nose is very sensitive in picking out minute differences in aroma. Aromas are triggered by nose and brain connecting to memory and more senses you sense in a day the more you build up in memory bank!

AROMA is very important.

What we perceive as tastes are really aromas: floral, fruits, nuts, vegetables, spice, herbs, roasted flavors, animal and alcohol are all actually aromas. 


Sweet, Bitter, Sour senses are found in both food and wine whereas the sensations that are hot and salty come from food,

The 6th sense-UNAMI!  (found in food and wine)

UNAMI:  “Delicious” or “Savory”

Found in foods with high protein such as aged meats, shitake mushrooms, dried seaweed, shellfish, raw seafood, soy sauce & tomatoes. Unami is related to spiritual sense: “feeling of perfect quality in a taste or some special emotional circumstance”.

Sweet and Unami are the only senses that are perceived as pleasant.These senses can have adverse affects on wine, making wines more tannic, bitter or metallic tasting.


Food and wine goes back centuries, in modern times it has become much trendier.

1928 - Escoffer wrote that red meat and Burgundy should be paired, as Champagne with entremets.

1931 - Micheline Guide recommended wines with dishes.

1939 - A systematic approach by Pierre Andrieu paired wine with the evolution of the meal

Old Systematic Approach: Red Wine with red Meat and White Wine with Fish.


“The marriages between two exceptional beings are as

rare in gastronomy as they are in life.”

Marc Meneau

‘Larousse des Vins et Vignobles de France’

Systematic Method (Course wine)

  • Dry before Sweet

  • White before Red

  • Young before Old

  • Simple before Complex

  • Light before Heavy

  • Exceptions: Foie gras with Sauternes

Modern Approach

Enter the Lateral Approach! Wine-Dish combinations regardless of sequence aka much cooler!

Today there are so many subtle foods and cuisines where matching food and wine takes more into consideration that the old school approach with stodgy rules.

Tip: Use an intermezzo or water as a palate cleanser when there is a change in coursing.


Acidic A dish with citrus or vinegar should be paired with a acidic wine. For example, Duck with oranges needs a more acidic red wine than Duck with olives

Salty Dishes with saltiness, such as soy sauce or seaweed will make wines with tannins more tannic and bitter.

Sweet If the food is sweeter than wine then the wine will taste thin and tart. FYI, Ice cream is almost impossible to pair.

Highly Seasoned or Spicy These foods can fatigue and numb the palate and the wine can get lost. Wines with low tannins and low alcohol levels are best and Sweet wines contrast well.

Rich and Fatty Foods Foods with cream sauces, fatty steaks or rich fowl. Full bodied wines such as Chardonnay, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Merlot or Syrah are recommended

SYNERGY Neither a wine nor food should overpower the other!

Base Ingredients are the main portion of the dish (the Protein) and Bridge Ingredients are those extras on a dish that add to the flavor such as mushrooms, berries, beans and herbs such as ginger, tarragon, cinnamon, cloves.

Cooking Methods

Grilling, Roasting, Sautéing and braising are preferred methods to pair with wine. However, Poaching, Steaming or smoking limit the wine choices.

When it is all said and done, Food and Wine should enhance each other and every one has different tastes and preferences. A simple "rule of thumb" to remember is the 3 C's...

Compare-Weight of the wine should match the weight of the dish. 

Contrast - Opposites attract! Sweet and Sour, Intense and Rich!

Complete - Think of wine as a condiment for the food being eaten; simple enough, right?

You made it!  You are now well equip to make extremely wise choices when it come to food and wine!