In many cultures the world over, the wine has had a long history of being a constant partner at the table and has also influenced the evolution of culinary traditions. Even in India, viticulture has a long history dating back to the time of the Indus Valley civilization when grapevines were believed to have been introduced from Persia. Winemaking has had a long history in India. ‘Sura’ has been consumed as an intoxicant in mythology as well. Winemaking was also encouraged in the colonial times in India.
The modern “art” of food pairings is a relatively recent phenomenon, fostering an industry of books and media with guidelines for pairings of particular foods and wine. The Lalit Hotel in Chandigarh, on the occasion of Indian Wine Day called upon the award-winning sommelier, Charles Donnadieu to conduct an experiential evening of tasting wines over mouth-watering Indian cuisine at the Baluchi. Hailing from the region of South of France, Charles grew up with a lifestyle where wine was a part of every meal and decided to settle in India to instill the same passion into the hearts of the Indian guest. In 2005, Charles completed his graduation Manager en Hôtellerie Internationale from the prestigious Vatel International School Of Hospitality And Tourism Management located in Nîmes, France. He then specialized in Wine Service from Lycée Professionnel L’etincelle in Nîmes where he learned to pair and store fine French wines. He has worked around the globe at well-known hospitality establishments.
Here are his top tips to be kept in mind while pairing wine with food:
1. Wine and food pairing is a balancing act, an art rather than an exact science. You want to balance flavors, weight, and intensity. A delicate dish should be matched with a subtle wine and a hearty meal with a sturdier wine. Wines can thus be chosen to complement the meal. That said, some dishes taste better if the wine contrasts with it. The crisp, clean flavors of many white wines will match perfectly with a rich, creamy dish and the lemony flavors of a Pinot Grigio are ideal for fried fish. In these instances, the wine cleanses your palate between bites.
2. Match the flavors of the wine with those traditionally paired with a food item. Sourness and saltiness in food suppress apparent bitterness in wine; astringency in wine is suppressed by foods that are acidic, salty or fatty and accentuated by food that is sweet or spicy; salty foods often make sweet wines taste sweeter, and bitter foods often make the wine seem more bitter.
3. Wine and cheese make a wonderful combination, especially if you are serving a wine that originates from the same region as the cheese.
4. Look for Balance
Consider the weight—or body, or richness—of both the food and the wine. The wine and the dish should be equal partners, with neither overwhelming the other. If you balance the two by weight, you raise the odds dramatically that the pairing will succeed. This is the secret behind many classic wine-and-food matches. How do you determine weight? For the food, fat—including what comes from the cooking method and the sauce—is the main contributor. (Note how a salad with blue cheese dressing feels heavier than one with citrus vinaigrette, as does fried chicken versus poached.)
5. Dessert wines should be sweeter than the dessert with which they are served. If the dessert is sweeter than the wine, the wine will taste thin and tart. For many desserts, choose a full-bodied, sweet wine such as a Sauternes, Muscat or late-harvest Chenin Blanc based wine. Chocolate can be difficult to match because chocolate desserts are often very sweet and they coat the inside of your mouth.