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Wine and Food Pairing Guide

At IRIS, we are not only passionate about great food, but also about great wine.

Although the status quo dictates that there are strict conventions over wine and food pairings, we are firm believers in the idea that individual preference should determine how you pair your food and wine. There are no hard and fast rules, and frankly, a delicious wine will be delicious no matter what you pair it with, and a delectable meal will still be delectable, no matter which wine you pair it with.

That said…

When the flavors, aromas, and weight of a wine are matched well with the flavors, aromas, and weight of a dish, the experience can be downright divine. We’re talking life-changing, forever chasing the magic of that perfect moment delicious.

The way we see it, as long as you’re happy, there’s no wrong way to go with food and wine, but you can certainly find very very right pairings.

Choosing a Wine and Food Pairing

Between the rise of creativity in the new guard of upcoming chefs, the proliferation of sourcing high-quality ingredients, and the world’s collective palette becoming more knowledgeable, finding that life-changing pairing is a more nuanced decision than just saying “red with meat, white with fish”.

Although the experienced wine drinker can easily navigate a restaurant’s wine list & food menu recognizing complementary flavor, for the less experienced the proposition of understanding a wine list, let alone choosing the right wine, is daunting to say the least. We feel that following this simple guideline is a good place to start:

Generally, it works well to pair a lighter wine with a meal containing light, delicate foods, and a more full-bodied wine with a meal containing heavier foods and sauces.

If you’re new to wine, you might be thinking, “How am I supposed to know which wines are light and which ones are full-bodied?”

Our suggestion? Ask & Taste!

IRIS Food and Spirits Offers Delicious Food and Incredible Wine

At IRIS Food & Spirits in Del Mar, our bar team & service staff works with the kitchen on a daily basis to taste developing flavors in new dishes, ultimately helping inform which cocktails we create & which wines we decide to pour. Below, bar manager Nick Sinutko has provided a few general guidelines about enjoying wine and food, as well as some specific examples of successful pairings he & staff at IRIS Food & Spirits have discovered in the restaurant.

IRIS Food and Wine Pairing Suggestions

Pair Sauvignon Blanc with tart dressings and sauces

One of the most tried-and-true pairing guidelines you can follow is to ‘either be the compliment, or be the counterpoint’. So, when drinking a bright, racy, acid-driven wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or a Semillon, you can’t go wrong with eating something with a tart component. Here at IRIS, the Greens & Berries Salad is dressed with a grapefruit vinaigrette & adorned with fresh seasonal berries, perfectly complementing the layers of pink grapefruit, white peach, and fresh tropical fruit present in the Peter Yealands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. One word: mouthwatering.

Pair Full-Bodied Reds with Juicy Red Meats

It might seem obvious to pair something like a Cabernet Sauvignon with a steak, or in our case something like the Cabernet-Braised Short Rib Stew, but we wouldn’t recommend just any cab. Rather than pairing this delectable dish with a more rounded, fruit-forward style of Cab, we opt for something with a bit more tannic structure to cut through the rich, and savory character of the dish. Look towards Napa, specifically an appellation like Rutherford to provide that rustic backbone this particular dish needs to sing. Right now we are pouring the Fortnight Cabernet Sauvignon, which sources 33% of it’s fruit from Rutherford.

Pair textural, aromatic whites with spicy foods

The most challenging pairing to make for the beginner wine drinker is often times with spicy food – something we absolutely love here at IRIS Food & Spirits. A lot of reds tend to ‘muddy’ the flavor profile of a dish with spice, highlighting the funkier notes of both the wine and food. And you can’t necessarily just reach for any old white wine to tame the heat. We love pairing something like a Dry Gewurtztraminer or a Semi-Dry Riesling with spicy dishes like Chef Tommy’s interpretation of Lo Mein. The rich texture of these varietals will help subdue the spice, while the aromatic qualities complement the bouquet of high-toned herbs & peppers.

Pair Old World wines with Old World dishes

Our Crispy-Skinned Duck Leg Confit fits the bill for classic, Old World style dishes. Because the confit method dates back to antiquity in France, we recommend pairing our version with one of the following two Old World style wines: Heritages Cotes Du Rhone (a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre) or the Mont Gravet Carignan. You can’t go wrong with wine and food pairings that have pleasured palates for centuries.

Pair Dry Rosé with just about anything

You know how some people can get along with anyone they meet? Dry Rosé is like that. It works with just about everything, which is probably part of the reason why it’s seeing a huge resurgence at the moment. At IRIS, we’ve had great success pairing it with unexpected dishes… everything from our Duck Confit to our Chicken Chili Mac & Cheese Balls to the Savory Lamb Meatloaf. The days of white Zinfandel are long, long gone. If you’re not currently enjoying rosé, you’re really missing out!

Come Dine at IRIS Food and Spirits in Del Mar

Now that we’ve whet your appetite, come join us at IRIS Food & Spirits in Del Mar. Enjoy Nick’s wine recommendations along with Chef Tommy’s scrumptious dishes while you take in the spectacular views of the lagoon. We have to admit, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Contact us to make a reservation today.

IRIS Food & Spirits, April 11, 2016

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