So you’ve decided not to go out for the fancy dinner this year and you’re going to cook your partner a lovely home cooked meal. But what wine do you choose? We’ve compiled a little list of the most popular dishes and the perfect wines to go with them!
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to matching wine with chicken. There are many different options for many different reasons. Classic roast chicken tends to match really well with a wine that has been lightly oaked. It is not too overpowering as to mask the delicate flavours of the chicken but still has a good amount of acidity to cut through any fat in the meat. Something like an oaky chardonnay would be perfect and if you don’t like Chardonnay, try a white wine from Bordeaux.
However, if you were going for something with a tomato based sauce such as a chicken casserole or chicken chasseur then I would go for a red wine. Still go for something quite light, you don’t want to mask all the flavours of the food by drinking a full flavoured Malbec, but something that is light, fruity and approachable would be perfect. A wine from the Beaujolais region would work well or a Californian Pinot Noir would be perfect as it has just the right amount of red fruit flavour and acidity to compliment your home cooked meal.
Now salmon is one of the trickier foods to match as it works with all ends of the white wine spectrum depending on what form it is in. In this instance, we are looking at the fillet form, grilled, perhaps with a fruity or slightly chilli glaze served with rice and green vegetables as opposed to smoked salmon. A lightly oaked chardonnay would be perfect with this dish, full of citrus and appley flavours but still rich and flavoursome to compliment the dish. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, try a Pinot Gris from New Zealand. Not to be confused with Pinot Grigio. Pinot Gris has had a little more time on the vine so therefore gives slightly richer flavours of stone fruit and pears. It also has a richer texture so physically is a great match with grilled salmon.
However, if you are thinking of preparing smoked salmon, go for a Chablis. Beautifully elegant wine with enough acidity to cut through the oiliness and enough minerality to compliment the strong smoked salmon flavour.
If you have chosen a goat’s cheese dish the wine for you is a Sancerre. Goats cheese and Sauvignon Blanc are two peas in a pod when it comes to food matching and is one of the most classic pairings there are. The acidity of the wine matches the acidity of the cheese so one doesn’t overpower the other. The freshness and mineral elements compliment the cheese perfectly. Regionally it is also a perfect match as the Loire Valley is famous for its Sancerre and Crottin de Chavignol – one of the most famous varieties of Goats Cheese.
With something as iconic as steak you need a wine that will stand up to the hearty flavours. The traditional choice is something French. Something from the Southern Rhone with luscious black fruit, plenty of tannins and powerful structure. This could be a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a Gigondas or a great quality Cotes-du-Rhone. However, I personally like something that has a slight vegetal note with steak to really bring out the flavours. Cabernet Sauvignon tends to have flavours of black cherry, blackcurrant with hints of red pepper and spices. These slightly more savoury flavours and the strong tannic structure compliment the chewiness of the meat brilliantly.
No Valentines would be complete without chocolate. Whether it’s a chocolate mousse, soufflé, brownies or just a bar of Green and Blacks it is no exception to an interesting wine match. Notoriously difficult to pair with wine but not impossible. You need something rich with a lot of dark fruit flavour but still a good amount of acidity. An Australian Shiraz from the Barossa Valley with a little bit of age and a lot of fruit. However, if you can’t get your hands on this, rummage in the back of your cupboard and I bet you have an old port kicking around in there. Crack it open, the rich black fruit will be a perfect match!