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Wine and Food Pairing Session Showcases Easy Tips

While visiting Messina Hof Winery & Resort in Bryan, Texas, we attended a wine and food pairing class presented by Melba Allen-Buillard and Karen Bonarrigo. Karen pointed out that there are no perfect rules for pairing wine and food. The old suggestion of matching red wine with red meats and white wine with white meats has some merit. So does matching the wines you like with the foods you like. There was plenty of sound advice during the presentation including that pairing wine and food is a personal experience. With this in mind we should try to experience pairings and search for the combination that the wine and the food highlight each other.

In order to get our senses to take notice, our first activity was a sensory perceptions activity. Three glasses of wine were covered in aluminum foil with holes on the top. We could not see the wine nor taste the wine. The sense of sight and taste were impaired. We were asked to smell the wine and note which wine offered aromas of vanilla, melon, prune and cherry. With my other senses impaired, my sense of smell seemed to be heightened. I was easily able to identify which wines corresponded to the stated aromas.

Using only the sense of smell, participants searched for various aromas.

Using only the sense of smell, participants searched for various aromas.

082414cFour wines were in four glasses next to a food plate of four foods. For each of the wines, Melba guided the group through the tasting of the wine using the website The Wine Profilers. Some people were able to connect to the website while others used the printed pages in a packet. Participants checked on a continuum where the wine we were evaluating fit. We were looking at characteristics such as color, hue, aromatic intensity, tannin structure, alcohol and aromas and tastes. After an analysis of the wine, Karen had us taste a food item and then taste it again with the wine and think about how the two together changed both.

The four wines were paired with four foods. The first pairing was a 2013 Private Reserve Blanc du Bois paired with an avocado butter crostini. The second pairing involved the 2013 Sophia Marie Rose (made from Lenoir grapes) matched with crudités & Sophia Marie Rose sassy cilantro dressing. The third wine food pairing was a 2011 Paulo Zinfandel paired with mushroom ragout. The final paring included Glory (Moscato Mistella, Late Harvest and grilled peach.

During the pairings a few tips were noteworthy. Karen pointed out that one of the easiest ways to pair wine and food is to cook with the wine. Serve the same wine with the food. This was experienced in the second pairing where the wine was paired with a salad dressing that had the wine in it as an ingredient. Another tip included the use of mushrooms. Add wine to mushrooms, white or red, and the mushrooms will absorb the wine and take on some of the wine characteristics. You can then pair that wine with the dish.

Pairing wine and food can be kept simple and does not need to be complicated.


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