The Salt Conundrum In Food & Wine Pairing.

Chapter Nine, Part Eight.
Spanish dinner cooked and served on the tableWhen pairing food with wine, sweet and sour tastes fall neatly into the cancellation category, bitter and piquant are subject to the cumulative effect, and umami is best grouped with neutral pairings, but what about salt? In moderation, salt doesn’t seem to have any conspicuous consequence, but how does excessive saltiness in food affect the taste of wine? To learn how (or if) salt fits into the A. cancellation, B. cumulative or C. neutral categories, I invited some friends over for some organoleptic research. They quickly declined until I told them that meant we were going to eat and drink wine.

Good old fashioned research is difficult and time consuming but in the name of conscientious reporting the WASTED team (Wine Snark Academy for Sensory Testing, Evaluation & Debauchery) created a salty feast and drank five bottles of wine because that’s the kind sacrifice we’re willing to make in the name of, umm … science, yeah that’s it, science.

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The Neutral Effect In Food and Wine Pairing.

Chapter Nine, Part Seven.
Swiss army veg. Penknife has a vegetable for every occasion.

The impact of the chemical reactions taking place in your mouth when you combine food and wine can be very obvious when you’re experiencing the cancellation effect or the cumulative effect, but there’s another interaction between food and wine that’s just as rewarding, but much less pronounced. I call this subtle interplay the neutral effect. I realize that describing a food and wine pairing as neutral sounds sort of, well … neutral, but that doesn’t mean these combinations are boring. Neutral pairings occur when similar flavors come together in a safe, reassuring place, sort of like Switzerland.

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The Cumulative Effect In Food And Wine Pairing.

Chapter Nine, Part Six.
tortellini with cream sauceWWhen pairing food with wine the cancellation effect works to your advantage once you understand how to balance the taste or texture of sweet and acidic food with similar traits in wine. While acidity and sweetness cancel each other out when combined on your palate, bitter and piquant sensations accumulate and magnify one another. The same can be said for pairing low acid foods with low acid wines so I’ll go ahead and say it; creamy or fatty traits do not cancel each other out; they accumulate on your palate (and also on your waistline). So after many years of deliberation I’ve decided to call this the cumulative effect.

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The Cancellation Effect In Food And Wine Pairing.

Chapter Nine, Part Five.
sole fishMatching food and wine by weight will put you in the ballpark when choosing the proper wine, but taste is the key to hitting an astronomic-gastronomic home run. Sweet, sour, salt, bitter, umami and piquance interact with one another in predictable ways and once you understand how these principles apply at your dining room table you’ll be able to create some major league food and wine combinations. I lump these interactions into three categories I call the cancellation effect, the cumulative effect, and the neutral effect.

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The WineSnark Academy for Sensory Testing, Evaluation & Debauchery (W.A.S.T.E.D.) On Food & Wine Pairing Principles.

Chapter Nine, Parts Two & Three.
Wine and cheeseShortly after WineSnark began its detailed research into taste perception it became apparent that an undertaking of this magnitude required a research team of dedicated, compassionate wine professionals, or as they’re known in the trade, drunks.

And so was born the WineSnark Academy for Sensory Testing, Evaluation and Debauchery (W.A.S.T.E.D.). We WASTED professionals do not take our research sitting down, as getting back up is often difficult, and because thousands of grapes have given their lives to further our understanding of human physiology, biochemistry, sensory perception and stuff.

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