Food and drinks have been paired for centuries to compliment one another, particularly at social gatherings and formal dining settings. While many people take great care in making the most accurate selection of beverage that will compliment their meal, there are others that strongly believe in simply drinking what you like. Neither camp is particularly wrong or right, but here are a few guidelines to go by that may help you down the road.
Everyone knows that certain wines go with particular foods, but not many people know the particular rules behind this. In spite of what most people think, rules are made to be broken. The key to pairing proper wine with food is to take care in not letting one overpower the other. Wine acts upon food much like it were a spice. Pairing a good wine with a good dish is a delicate balance and is open to a lot of experimentation and interpretation. Everyone won’t have the same opinion, especially with more risqué pairings. The stand by rule is typically that white wine is to be served with fish and poultry and red wine is to be served with red meat. Aside from that, almost anything goes. However, most wine experts will not hesitate to say that this old rule can be disregarded to your heart’s content, but you may want to take your guests’ tastes into consideration before making a completely bold and off-the-wall pairing.
Beer is known as a social drink and there is no better social activity than people eating together. Beer is a fun drink, even for its strictest aficionados. In the US, most people associate drinking beer with food that is traditionally served in bars and pubs, such as buffalo wings, nachos, and burgers. However, if you leave beer to just those foods, you are missing out on a world of flavor. Like wine, beer can accentuate the foods you eat. The hops in the beer actually serve to coat the pallet and interact with the food in such a manner that can be highly complimentary. Also like wine, beer is right at home dressed up in a fine dining restaurant served with a filet mignon, lobster tail, or roast pheasant.
Liquor is not typically served with main course meals, per se, but is more often served before and after in the form of aperitifs and digestifs. An aperitif is served before the main course of the meal and is accompanied by finger foods such as small sandwiches, nuts, and crackers. Aperitifs are typically fortified wines such as Sherries or clear spirits served neat. Digestifs are served after the main course and dessert and are often said to aid in digestion. Digestifs are darker liquors such as cognac, whiskey, scotch, or brandy