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The Basics of Food and Wine Pairing

Food & Wine pairing


Food Pairing:

There are no strict rules, as the combination of food and wine is ultimately a matter of personal taste, but the best combination of food and wine balances the ingredients of the food with the quality of the wine. At Essence Spirits, we are happy to share our three most important rules:


Choose a bottle of wine you want to know its characteristics.

Choose a bottle of wine that you want to know its characteristics, rather than hoping that the food mix will improve it. Even if the combination is not perfect, you will still know more about this bottle and you'll still be grateful for what you're drinking.


Enjoy a drink


Look for something that is well-balanced. 

Wine and courses should complement each other, and neither should overwhelm each other. By balancing the two through qualities, you can greatly increase the chances of successful pairing. Many traditional wine and food combinations list this as their winning formula.


Align the bottle with the most distinctive features of the dish. 

This is critical when fine tuning pairing. Identify the main features of the dish; This is usually a sauce, seasoning or cooking method, not a main course.

Consider two dishes: a fresh lobster fried with spices, ginger and onions, in contrast to a steamed lobster sprinkled with lemon juice, Italian parsley and rosemary. The strong aroma and taste of the former suggest a strong liquor or Chinese liquor with strong aroma, while the simple and citrus taste of the latter suggest a medium-sized liquor or sake or Chinese liquor with light aroma.


Asian lobster dish
Explore a selection of Chinese Spirits


Sauce Aroma Baijiu:  Fresh notes of soy sauce are manifest at first. The main aroma is multi-layers with fine notes of fruit, plants and grains, mixed with floral and yeast notes. Maotai is arguably one of the best known and most prestigious baijius in the Sauce Aroma spirit class.  They pair exceptionally well with any Chinese cuisine, but also with Korean and Japanese grill, sashimi and caviar.

Strong Aroma Baijiu:  Strong-flavor baijiu such as luzhoulaojiao-jiu and wuliangye-jiu, which have the characteristics of fragrant flavor, soft mouthfeel, and endless aftertaste.  Dishes that are particularly strong or savory work really well as the spirit will cut through the toughness of the meat and seafood.

Sake:  Junmai-shu, Ginjo-shu, Daiginjo-shu, Honjozo-shu and Namazake are the five main kinds of sake. They are brewed in slightly different ways and make use of different percentage of milling and hence, have a unique taste. 


Japanese food with sake

Check out our wide selection of sake


When it comes to food pairing with Sake, the rule of thumb is light cuisine is best paired with smooth, clean sakes, while richer cuisine goes great with a rich sake. If you are eating a salty dish, choose a dry sake. With matchings such as these, you can achieve a state of equilibrium among the flavors of the food and sake. You also need to aim for harmony. 

Wine:  Both white and red wines can have spicy, buttery, leathery, earthy, or flowery scents and flavors. However, the apple, pear, and citrus notes found in many white wines are rarely found in reds, while the black currant, cherry, and plum flavors found in red grapes are rarely seen in white wines.

Tannins and tastes distinguish red wines from white wines in two ways. Tannins are chemical molecules that give wine its structure and texture; they're also responsible for the astringent sensation you get on the sides of your cheeks after drinking a strong cup of tea. Tannins are found in many red wines, but only a few white wines unless they have spent a significant amount of time in oak barrels. This is an area where matching may be a lot of fun. 


Tanins in wines

Choose the perfect wine here


When it comes to wine and food pairings, white wines go well with lighter dishes like chicken and fish, while red wines go well with heavier dishes like beef and lamb. Red wines, in general, have a lot of color and mouth-puckering tannins, which allows them to cut through fatty foods and stand up to strong flavors. 

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec are just a few of the wines that would go well with a steak supper.

With lighter meats, though, it's critical to match the wine to the sauce, which is likely to be the most prominent flavor on the plate. A lemon-cream sauce pasta meal, for example, would go nicely with a zesty Sauvignon Blanc or a fruit-forward Pinot Grigio.


Creamy pasta with white wine

 Check out the pasta recipe here


The following are some of our favorite red wine food pairings:

Pinot Noir with shellfish or salads

• Cabernet Sauvignon with red meat or lamb

• Malbec with tomato-based meat dishes or spiced vegetarian soups and stews • Merlot with roasted chicken or turkey

Chardonnay with lobster or smoked salmon, Champagne and caviar, Chablis and oysters, Chenin Blanc and roast pig are some of our favorite white wine food pairings.


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