Tasty food harmonies and combinations

The basic rules and their exceptions

The magic world of gastronomy and wine can be just as exciting as this of arts or same as the initiation to new experiences. Today neither eating nor drinking is as it used to be in the past.  We do not only consume, but we taste, enjoy and feel. We seek these delicious food harmonies; we need to know some of the basic “rules” of combining wine and food. It was in 1950, when the French Curnonski published the first relevant "rules"  in his work "Bons plats et bons vins".

Since then the "rules" have been enriched or actually their exceptions have been identified, which may confirm or make them less restrictive. There are many "rules" about food and wine pairing, resulting artisans through long observation, experimentation, and scientific contribution. Wine experts use mainly these rules and therefore it would be good for us to keep the most basic ones in mind.

It is certainly not feasible to record any possible or unlikely combination of wine and food. But even if it was achievable, it would miss from the personal exploration and experimentation. However, there are some basic and simple "rules" that will help you make successful combinations, but also to avoid the pitfalls.

The “rule” of harmony is basic and the safest choice. There is, however, the rule of complementarity, which does not exclude the factor of contrast. What you should know about it:

  • Wines high in acidity, pair with acidic (eg with lemon base sause), fat (eg salmon) or savory (eg seafood) dishes.

  • Wines with tannins and acidity emerge more when combined with fried or fatty foods (eg meat or cheese).

  • Very spicy (hot) dishes pair best with wines that are low in alcohol.

Apart from the above there are some basic and some additional and very useful rules, such as:

  • Prefer to combine local food with local wines. It is not out of coincidence that many local products or specialties of a specific region pair perfectly with the local wines.

  • The way of cooking affects the combination of food and wine. The grilled meat or fish require different wine than those cooked with other ingredients such as white or red sauces, spices, vegetables, fruits etc.
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Small or big fish, seafood, scallops, clams, caviar, sushi…
Cool and enjoyable, with vegetables or fruit...
Red, white, game, poultry, grilled or with sauce…
All types, from the most special local cheese, spicy or  creamy.
From classic traditional fried to foie gras and botargo of Mesologgi
Sweet preserves, sweet tarts, cakes and other sweet temptations…
Simple or creative spaghetti dishes and more…
Including traditional Epirotic pies, smoked eel and other local dishes…
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