Sommelier and co-owner of Obladee, A Wine Bar, Heather Rankin, guides us on how to elevate drink and dish through harmonious pairings using basic wine styles and popular snacks.
1. “Match strength with strength,” in flavor and weight.
2. “What grows together often goes together,” therefore the produce, cheese or traditional food from a country will compliment their wine.
3. “Match like wine with like food” to mirror the flavours and aromas in each.
4. “Be careful with spicy food---bubbles, fruit and low alcohol” are the characteristics needed in a wine to calm the tastebuds.
5. “Contrast fat with acidic wine and salt with sweet wine” if you’re looking to be more daring.
like Champagne, Cava, Prosecco
Pair with salt and vinegar chips “Bubbles scrub away the fat in the mouth, and a tart acidity marries nicely with the tang of salt and vinegar.”
Crisp dry white
like Chablis, NS Tidal Bay,
Loire Sauvignon Blanc Pair with fish tacos “Delicate, clean whites have a kind of sea-briny character that cries out for fish. And their structure allows them to take on assertive flavours from condiments and mild spices in the taco.”
Fruity aromatic white
like Riesling, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Pair with mac ’n’ cheese “These are easy, versatile food wines due to their acidity, fruitiness and low alcohol. Proper macaroni and cheese is stodgy and rich, but the flavours are still relatively mild, so [pair] a wine with some clout, but nothing over the top.”
like Viognier, Oaked Chardonnay,
Gewürztraminer Pair with Southern fried chicken “Authentic fried chicken is marinated in buttermilk, coated in flour and spices, and fried. This onslaught of flavors and textures requires a white with weight.”
like Provencal, Nova Scotia Rosé
Pair with poutine “It’s the gravy that beckons rosé. Well-seasoned, poultry-based gravy and a fruity but herbaceous rosé are a match made in heaven. Good acidity in the wine sears through the fat in the curd and fries, too.”
Light and fruity red
like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Valpolicella
Pair with kimchi hot dogs “Spicy-sour is hard [pairing] for wine. I might normally suggest bubbly […] but a [red with] subtle fruit-sweetness and low alcohol can mediate some of the heat from the kimchi and grilled pork dogs.”
like Chianti Classico, Côtes du Rhône
Pair with wood-fired pizza “Côtes du Rhône is the ultimate pizza wine. It is easy-drinking, uncomplicated, and both earthy and fruity. It is structured enough to handle myriad pizza topping flavours, but mellow enough not to dominate, and its bright acidity is a must for tomato sauce.”
like Shiraz, Malbec
Pair with bacon “Any inky red with a faint smokiness or meaty character will do fine against bacon. The ripe, sweet fruit in both Shiraz and Malbec will be a delicious contrast to the bacon’s salt and it has just enough tannin to latch onto the protein.”
like Sauterne, ice wine, late harvest wine
Pair with cupcakes “It is pretty tough to ruin a cupcake moment, but if you wanted to you could pair it with a dry white or a tannic red wine. Sweet foods require a sweet wine. Sweet [wine shouldn’t] be sickly or confected tasting. Good [dessert wines] offer up notes of dried tree fruit---like apricot or apple---warm spices and honey, with ample acidity to balance.”