Drink Pairing Made Easy: How to Pair Drinks with Any Meal
Choosing drinks that go well with a certain food isn’t something that most people spend much time thinking about, but they do it anyway. For example, a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day would probably taste great with barbequed foods from the grill but terrible with soup.
It’s normal to want the tastes of food and drink to blend well together. However, choosing great pairings doesn’t always come naturally. It requires consideration of several factors, including acidity, alcohol content if any, carbonation, and sweetness for starters. Here’s the basics of food and drink pairing.
Acidic drinks, such as those with citrus, lemon, or lime are a good option with several types of meals. They go especially well with heavy foods, seafood, and salad. The acid in a drink helps people feel refreshed while adding a dash of flavor at the same time. Here are some specific lunch or dinner options to consider with an acidic drink:
- Chow mein
- Crab cakes
- Grilled salmon
- Pasta with cream sauce
- Shrimp cocktail
As for drinks to pair with the above, a cocktail like a daiquiri or a bottle of Italian wine blend rich and acidic flavors together. For those who prefer to skip alcohol, punch or lemonade are just as good.
Pay Attention to Levels of Alcohol
While spicy dishes and drinks with high alcohol content can taste great, this is usually the case when they are separate and not together. The problem is that the alcohol enhances the spiciness to a point where it can become truly uncomfortable to eat the food. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean someone who desires a little spice with their meal and an alcoholic beverage at the same time need to abandon their plans. Cold beer and spicy food play off each other well for an enjoyable combination.
Sweet Drinks with Salty or Spicy Food
When a spicy barbeque, fajitas, or stir-fry is on the menu, choosing a sweet drink will help to control the heat of the food. Some possible choices for alcoholic beverages include rum and Coke, Chenin blanc, or off-dry Riesling. As a non-alcoholic beverage, sweet tea can have the same effect. When choosing a drink to good with food or desert, a good rule of thumb is that the drink should be sweeter than the what’s on the plate to help balance out the flavors.
How to Choose the Best Drinks to Pair with Chinese Food
While Chinese food is known for its richness as well as being soft and spicy, it also provides incredible diversity of choice. Choosing the wrong wine or other beverage with Chinese food can ruin the meal. Here are some pairings suggested by the sommelier at Seattle’s Purple Café:
- Dim Sum: The heat in this Beijing-style dish can be anywhere from mild to intense. A wine with high weight and acidity normally goes well with all types of dim sum. If the dish includes spicy noodles, rice, or tofu, choosing a wine with slightly less acidity will help to reduce the heat.
- Shrimp Fried Rice: Some types of wine drown out the rich flavor of shrimp fried rice ingredients such as coconut, ginger, mango, and scrambled eggs. This Chinese food would go better with Columbia Valley wines instead.
Pairing food and drinks is part art and part science, with experimentation being half the fun.