Today I was making myself a quickie lunch of tomato and rice soup. As I was eating my soup with crackers, I realized something was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on craving until suddenly I thought—peanut butter sandwich! I remember one evening back in Bloomington when I went over to a friend’s house for a chili supper and they were serving peanut butter sandwiches on the side. My family didn’t grow up eating chili this way, so the pairing struck me as odd. Peanut butter and chili?!? But I gave it a try and you know what? It was GOOD! 🙂
My experimentation with tomato soup and a peanut butter sandwich made me start to think about wine and what kind of wine would go best with a peanut butter sandwich. Food and wine pairings are similar because opposite taste sensations can make the best pairings! Take salty and sweet for instance. A classic food and wine pairing would be brie and Champagne (salty + sweet).
But what about even stranger food combos?
In a recent article in Imbibe magazine, “Pair & Share: From takeout to home-cooked, how to choose wines for the way you really eat,” they explore fun and interesting food and wine combinations.
- Chips and salsa with an off-dry German Riesling.
- Sparkling wine with French fries.
- Fried chicken and Sauternes.
- Burgers and a Spanish Tempranillo.
- Pizza and a Chianti classico.
And the perfect match for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Well, I had to do my research to come up with the answer, but one sommelier suggests an Argentine Torrontes. A dry, spicy white wine, Torrontes has the perfect amount of acidity to wash down the peanut butter. Or try pairing sweet with sweet by choosing a white wine like Riesling or Chenin Blanc.
The best way to find a perfect pairing is to play around with flavors until you find something you like, however there are a few rules of thumb to follow when doing food and wine pairings:
- Match the weight/richness of the food and the body of the wine. Ex) Red meats with full-bodied, tannic red wines and white meat or fish with white wines or light-bodied, delicate reds.
- Match the flavor intensity of the food and wine. Delicate wines and powerfully flavored foods don’t pair well together.
- Match acidic foods with high-acid wines. Ex) Italian food and Italian wines go together well because both are dominated by acidic flavors—think tomatoes, olive oil, lemons and vinegar.
- Match sweet foods with sweet wines. Late-harvest wines and Muscat-based wines are called dessert wines for a reason!
- Avoid combining oily or salty foods with high-tannin red wines. Salty foods are best when enhanced with a touch of sweetness. Ex) Prosciutto and figs, Fino Sherry and salted nuts, etc.
Now it’s your turn to experiment and discover your perfect food and wine pairing!