Pairing wine with food can be complicated. With so many wines to choose from, and endless food combinations to work with, how can the average person create a winning pair?
I was taught to match what my wine instructor called "power with power," which simply means pairing lighter dishes with lighter wine and vice versa. For more in depth information and expert advice, I went to manager and marketing director Dianne Blaskiewicz at Saint Louis Cellars.
Blaskiewicz concurred the "power with power" concept, though admitted it can be difficult.
"We try to keep it as simple as possible," Blaskiewicz said. "People come in and tell us what they want to make, and we match the wine according to that."
Some dishes don't quite fit the mold, however, and Blaskiewicz pointed out that some heavier dishes do better with a lighter wine.
The key to true food and wine pairing success is what Blaskiewicz calls the "1+1=3" method. Instead of simply choosing a wine that complements a dish, find one that will elevate the meal and experience as a whole, getting much more bang for your buck.
This can be difficult and takes some experience, but employees like Blaskiewicz, who has learned a lot "being in the life of wine" while working at Saint Louis Cellars, can help you as you refine your own palate.
For wine and cheese pairing, Blaskiewicz suggested sticking to two that complement each other. For example, with a pungent, tangy bleu cheese, drink a Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon, two red wines that have some tannins and acidity to match the cheese. For dessert, pair chocolate with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Pinot Noir.
Typically, you can't drink a red wine with fish. The tannins in the wine react with the fish to cause a metallic taste in the mouth, but Blaskiewicz said you can choose a light rosé from Malbec with a heavier fish, like salmon or tuna, depending on the fish and other elements to the dish, like the sauce.
If you want to learn more, don't hesitate to stop by Saint Louis Cellars, Blaskiewicz said.
"Wine can be so intimidating, and we just want to make it simple, easy and fun," Blaskiewicz said. "You can be a novice and still come in, because we want to be able to get you what you want."
Saint Louis Cellars is dedicated to educating customers about the world of wine, offering once a month wine classes. Keep an eye open for future classes.
Saint Louis Cellars is located at 2640 S. Big Bend Blvd. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.