There’s a very good reason why red wine often attracts staggering prices – the complexity of this incredible beverage has proven it to be not only versatile when looking to pair it with a meal, but it provides the opportunity to get even better with age (under ideal storage conditions, of course). For many people, with this complexity comes a misunderstanding – or maybe even complete cluelessness – about how to use red wine appropriately. In this article, we take a look at a few hints and tips to help you better pair red wine with food and store it so that it ages properly.
Pairing food with red wine
Generally, red wine has a firmer structure than your average white and rosé wine varieties, which makes it much better at pairing with richer foods. A medium-full body with similar traits is ideal when contrasted against strong flavours, such as red meats, while red wines that are lighter in body and higher in acidity, such as a pinot noir, are better suited to lighter foods, such as chicken and vegetables. If you have some understanding of how full-bodied your wine is, you should be able to find a great deal more success in pairing it with whatever food you might be eating for dinner – although pairing a pinot noir with a beef stew isn’t a terrible thing, it might be a bit of a better experience if you used something heavier, like a shiraz. If you’re still a bit confused about what foods can be matched to what red wines, consider the old adage, “what grows together, goes together.” It is usually the case that the area a particular kind of wine grape is grown complements the local foods, with a good example of this being how traditional Italian tomato sauce dishes pair excellently with the high-acid, lighter-bodied red wines of Chianti.
Aging red wine
Due to the complex , there is ample opportunity to age it to further imrove upon the base flavours. This does, of course, mean that you don’t simply leave it around the house for a few years to “age.” Aging requires proper storage, as the quality of red wine can be affected by a combination of temperature, light and humidity. If the storage conditions of wine are too warm, the aging process is accelerated (due to the stimulation of the yeast cells), and too much heat will cause the flavour profile to become very unfavourable. Too cold and your wine won’t actually age, as the yeast cells will be inactive. Light is also a big factor, which is why wine bottles are made out of green or brown glass to prevent UV exposure. Lighter styles of red wine are more vulnerable to light exposure, but regardless of the type of wine you have, it’s best to make sure that it’s somewhere dark and temperature-controlled.
Enjoying your red wine
Although it might take a little bit of time and practice to learn how to properly pair your red wine with food and age it, the reward is very much worth it. Understanding how it all works is not only valuable for your own enjoyment, but gives you the unique opportunity to show off your amazing red wine knowledge at your next dinner party!