Too sweet wine

My husband and I were in a gourmet shop on a day they were tasting a couple of wines and had some samples of a couple of the food treats out.  We told the owner we’d like to try the red but weren’t interested in the pink because they are always too sweet for us.  He said “hold on a minute.”  and dashed off to find the spicy salsa that was around the corner.

We were very pleasantly surprised.

He said “When you find a bottle of wine that’s too sweet, pair it with something spicy and they will balance each other.”

That should be instructions given to people before they ever pull the first cork, in my opinion.  I don’t know how many times I passed on a wine that would have been a good choice for a certain dish because I didn’t know how to match it with food.

I have drunk a lot of wine.  I have an idea, now, what various grapes taste like, so I can imagine how things will go together in anticipation of the actual combination with food.  But it took a lot of wine and a lot of time to get to this place.  And it feels like a lot of good opportunities have been wasted.

I recently figured out a wine I like with sushi.  Because, I don’t get out for sushi very often, this hasn’t been an easy discovery.  I have often chosen water or tea because I knew how those would work and simply didn’t want to risk not liking what was going on in my mouth.  (And I have never had sake that I liked.  I’ve only tried it 3 times but there are too many things I do like to invest time and money trying to cultivate that taste.)

I tend to go for big wines, oakey chardonnays, old vine zins, dark shirazs.  But Asian cuisines  don’t stand up to those flavors.  They become overwhelmed by the depth of the wine.  Finally, (I’m slow to catch on) it occurred to me that the wines I think are too light to go with garlicky pastas or sturdy stews are actually a good fit for the flavors of Asian cuisines.  Pinot gris/grigio works for me when we are eating Japanese or Indian, the other food I have tended to eat wineless.

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