Harmonies at the table! The perfect communion between the gastronomic offer and the winemaking proposal !. Without a doubt, one of the great culinary debates that we can find the most divergent positions.
To make clear, from the beginning, the position of the person who signs this, the best option is the personal commitment of each one; that is to say, there is no better harmony than to make that wine that we like live together with the dishes that we are preparing to enjoy. Based on this absolute premise, it is true that there are wines that are "understood" better, depending on which foods; and there are preparations that really make any of the wines that we can have in the glass lose all their prominence.
And that's where I want to enter, with four tips, derived from experience, so that in this exciting universe, where gastronomy and wines woo, you can move with some previous orientation.
Harmonies and pairings
Pairings by association
When thinking about harmony, we have to consider the set of sensations that wine and food give us: the flavors (acid, salty, sweet, bitter), the tactile and chemical sensations (the texture, the spiciness), the temperature (which greatly modifies our perception) and the aromas. In general, most of the harmonies are usually established by association or complementarity: colored (white with white fish, red with red meat), flavors (sweet desserts with sweet wines), sensations (fatty foods with tannic wines) , of aromas (foods smoked with oak barrels), of intensity (main dishes with full-bodied wines. But let's not forget, that the contrasts, the opposite poles, can create great attractions (some blue cheeses, with some sweet wines have given me some of the greatest moments of food and wine pleasure).
Knowing, I will never tire of repeating it, that there are no definitive formulas or immovable rules, and that curiosity and the search for pleasure must always prevail, some couples in fact could be the following:
The main pairings
- Simple young white wines, "facilones": light snacks or starters.
- More serious young white wines, of greater substance (of noble varieties): White fish, seafood, fresh cheeses, salads, some mousses.
- Barrel fermented white wines: Cured cheeses, Vegetables, Smoked meats, white meats, some rice dishes.
- Rosé Wines: Vegetables, pasta, rice, soft cheeses, tortillas, fruit salad.
- Cavas: For me it is the great wild card, and its range is so extensive that we must distinguish between a cava with a few months of aging, a reserve or a large reserve, much more complex and endowed with greater personality; for not going into white that start from wines fermented in barrels, or the whole range of rosés. Therefore, its range of application is immense, and depending on the cava we want, it can be an ideal companion throughout the meal.
- Young Red Wines: Delicatessen, semi-mature cheeses, blue fish, some white meats, including roasted red meats, such as goat or lamb. It admits mushrooms and sauced cod dishes, and generally fish in sauce.
- Crianza Red Wines: Grilled meats, roasts, red meat stews, aged cheeses, delicatessen.
- Reserva and Gran Reserva Red Wines: More subtle and elaborate game dishes and stews. Dare to try them with high purity cocoa chocolate, Impressive!
- Generous wines (fines and chamomiles): Appetizers, salmorejo, grilled or boiled fish, seafood, smoked.
- Sweet wines: Fruit desserts, tarts with nuts and pastry cream. Foie and pâtés.
Uncorking a large bottle is a magical moment. If the bottle does not have any residue, it does not require any previous preparation. Once the desired temperature is achieved, we follow the following steps:
Steps to follow for a good corkage
- The capsule is cut below the bottle ring, either with the corkscrew blade or with a capsule cutter.
- If we see that there has been a small ooze or fungus development, we will clean with a cloth before removing the cork.
- There are countless models of corkscrews, but very few are really functional. We will avoid those whose spirals have a short pitch and sharp edges (auger type). We will always look for models that have a long spiral and if possible teflon.
- You will always work with the bottle in an upright position, well supported on the table, gently and without shaking: the wine detests brutality.
- Once the cork is removed, we examine it and smell it from the part that has been in contact with the wine.
- We will clean the neck again if it continues to have impurities.
- In the event that the cap has deteriorated due to mold or over time (bottles over 20 years old), we will use a double-blade corkscrew.
When the wine needs to be decanted
The decanting of the bottles is an operation that consists of separating the clean wine from the lees that have formed during its aging. However, this action always involves a certain aeration, that is, an oxygen solution, which depending on the wine in hand, can be beneficial or harmful. Regarding the old question of whether to open a bottle for a while before serving, the answer is clear and simple: NO. If a wine needs to be aerated before consumption, the gas exchange that takes place through the neck of the bottle is practically nil, since the contact surface is very small. In this case, we will transfer the content of the wine to a spacious decanter, where the desired aeration will take place. Trying to give some general guidelines, the aeration will be positive for powerful aged wines, full of youth and tannicity. With it, we achieve that the aromatic potential of the wine is expressed and intensified. Now, one must be very cautious when oxygenating an old bottle, with a delicate and fragile bouquet; This can be totally ruined, due to sudden and inadequate aeration. In these cases, a carefully handled basket may be sufficient not to serve the wells.
How to perform the decanting operation
- It should be placed in a very bright place with a light background (white tablecloth), in order to see the bottom of the bottle and the neck of the decanter. A candle can also be used to help us see more clearly.
- The bottle must have been standing for at least two hours (much better if it is from the day before).
- Once the transfer has started, do not interrupt it until the process is complete.
- Do it slowly, without haste, so that the precipitate is not altered.
- If we are dealing with a very old wine, make the liquid slide smoothly down the walls of the decanter, in order to limit oxygenation as much as possible.
- If what we are looking for is to oxygenate the wine and it does not present a residue (the operation is then called jarrear), we will look for a large bottle and the transfer will be done vigorously, so that the liquid hits the glass and we enhance the result.
The right temperature for wine service
You must oppose the hackneyed phrase "red wine is drunk at room temperature" outright, since in most cases, this is usually much higher than recommended. The last part of the phrase "at room temperature ... in the cellar" is missing; that is, the 16-18 ºC in which most of the underground are usually found. The same is true for whites and rosés, but in reverse. When a wine is too cold, good or bad, its aroma disappears and it becomes totally neutral.
Ideally, the wines reach their optimum consumption temperature without abruptness, gradually. In the case of a large red wine, the bottle must be removed from the winery the day before and left standing 24 hours in a cool place (16-18 ° C). Never put a wine in the freezer, or a very hot red wine in an ice bucket. Finally, we must not forget that the wine wins one or two additional degrees in the glass, especially if the room is hot.
Optimum temperatures for serving the different wines
- Young Whites: 8 ° C
- Sweet whites: 6-8º C
- White with oak: 10-12º C
- Rosé / Cavas: 6-8º C
- Young, light reds: 12-14º C
- Powerful, full-bodied reds: 14-16º C
- Reds with aging: 16-18º C
Source: Wine Travelers