You might have heard about food pairing. Maybe you’ve even seen it in the movies: happy couples drive down to a vineyard and spend the day matching up wines with cheeses. They use complex words to describe the flavor. They try out a cheese from a secluded corner of France.
Can food pairing be fancy? Yes, it can. But it doesn’t have to be. The best sommeliers will tell you that even the most simple dishes can be paired with affordable beers and wine.
And trust us, here at Blackstone we make food pairing easy and down to earth. Forget about all the formalities – food pairing is getting flavors to mix up nicely. That’s it! Pairing is all about bringing out the flavor from a dish with a drink. Their components mix up in your mouth, and your taste buds beg for more fusion of flavor!
So, keep reading to learn the basics of pairing without the compromise. Of course, you won’t become a connoisseur, but you’ll learn enough to serve up a meal with the perfect drink – your friends will be amazed.
Now is the time to learn how to make that wine from the supermarket match up nicely with some griddled steak. Or a beer that brings out the caramelized sweetness from corn on the cob.
What Is Pairing?
Pairing is matching up foods with drinks to bring out the most flavor. Every dish you cook packs taste in a variety of flavors.
Imagine a sweet and spicy burger or creamed corn that’s fatty and sweet. There are more than 20 different flavors for food and drinks, but you need to only know 6 for pairing. Here they are:
- Acid (sour)
Wines are either acid, bitter or sweet. They can also have light or bold bodies. That means you have to match those flavors with foods that make those flavors more intense! Or you can complement them with a totally opposite flavor for a great meal.
And beers can be sweet, spicy or bitter. There are other flavors here and there but focus on these three to make the pairing easier.
See below how beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks mix well with these griddled ingredients:
When it comes to pairing drinks with red meat there are a lot of factors. The easiest to pay attention to is the amount of fat on the cut. Here’s why:
A lean meat cut gets flavor from protein and texture. Since there’s less fat, you should focus on pairing it with a drink that’s gentle. The idea is to mix light meaty flavor with a light drink – and get a tasty boost from texture.
- Beer: Lager, Pilsner, Wheat
- Wine: Gamay, Grenache, Pinot Noir
- Non-alcoholic: Cranberry juice
Pro tip: Some people think that read meat only goes well with red wine. Even though It’s fair to say that not all white wines will work perfectly – some actually taste great with a mature, white Rioja. Do you want to serve red meat but only have a young bottle of white wine at your place? Try to add acidity to the dish, with a drizzle of lemon juice. Yum!
Meat with marbling fat that has intense flavor. You can pair it either with a wine with a medium/high acidity or with a bitter beer. Our mouth reacts to acidity by producing more saliva, which helps to wash out the fat from your mouth, so you get no aftertaste.
- Beer: Amber Ale, Porter, Stout
- Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Sangiovese
- Non-alcoholic: Berry Cordial
Want to cook up some griddled red meat? Try out this flank steak with chimichurri sauce recipe with an amber ale or cabernet sauvignon.
White Meat from chicken and turkey is low in fat and mild in flavor. That means it’s great to pair with a drink that’s mild too. The idea is for a combined, gentle flavor – nothing too overpowering.
Beer: Lager, Wheat
Wine: White wines, such as chardonnay and sauvignon blanc go really well, but if you’re feeling like red wine, try some Pinot Noir.
Non-alcoholic: Agua Fresca
In the mood to griddle up some white meat? Try this chicken piccata pasta recipe with a drink we mentioned above – why not a chardonnay?
Seafood matches with beers and wines based on its texture and flavor. Tilapia is lean and flaky, while salmon is almost as bulky as steak! That means there’s no size-fits-all and you need to pair your drink based on how meaty the seafood is.
Here are some categories to help you out:
- Flaky: fluke, haddock, pollock, tilapia, and trout. Pair with white wine like chardonnay, pinot grigio, and sauvignon blanc. A nice rosé also does the trick. For beer, stick with a pilsner.
- Meaty: mackerel, salmon, swordfish, and tuna. Pair either with a pinot grigio or a chablis if you’re feeling like white wine. If you want to try it with red wine, choose lighter ones, such as pinot noir. For beer, stick with a brown ale.
- Crustaceans: lobster, mussels, prawns, and shrimp. Pair with white wine like Chardonnay. Dry and crisp white wines can also go well with crustaceans, so if you have that bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, go for it! For beer, pair with Saison.
And for any seafood, if you’re not in the mood for alcohol stick with Pink Lemonade. Pair it up with this salmon tacos with avocado and corn salsa recipe.
Vegetables and Fungi
The perfect pair between a veggie and a drink is in the freshness. If you’re eating a light salad – think tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers – pair it up with a sparkling wine or a light lager. But if you’re cooking up earthy mushrooms, it’s a whole new story – a strong drink will match up nicely.
So, check out these categories to help you find the perfect pair:
- Light vegetables: cabbage, celery, cucumber, peas, salad, tomatoes, and zucchini. Pair with white wine, such as sparkling wine or light white wine. For beer pair with a light lager. And a great non-alcoholic drink is Agua Fresca
- Strong veggies and fungi: carrots, corn, mushrooms, onions, potatoes. Pair with a slightly chilli red wine like Syrah. For beer pick a dark stout. And if you want something non-alcoholic pick a Shirley Temple.
Pair up this corn fritters recipe with a Syrah wine. It’s griddled perfection! And it’s just as awesome with a dark stout.
Cheeses come in all sorts of flavors and textures. You’ve got soft, creamy, and hard in texture – from fresh to nutty in flavor. And if you make the right combination with a drink, the mix is delicious!
Each type of cheese pairs up with different beers and wines. Check it out:
- Fresh: feta, mozzarella, and ricotta. Pair with white wines such as pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc. For beer pair with a light lager or wheat beer.
- Bloomy: brie, camembert, and robiola. Pair with acidic white wines such as sauvignon blanc and sparkling wine. For beer, pair with pilsner.
- Washed Rind: epoisses, fontina, and taleggio. Pair with red wine, such as merlot. For beer, pick a amber ale.
- Semi-soft: gouda, gruyère, and havarti. Pair with red wine such as carmenere. For beer, pair with a dark lager.
- Hard: cheddar, parmesan, and pecorino. Pair with a strong red wine like nebbiolo, or even with a delicious Syrah. For beer, pick an indian pale ale (IPA).
- Blue: cambozola, gorgonzola, and roquefort. Pair with white wine like Sauterne or red wine such as Port. Pair with beer like brown ale.
Want to eat cheese without alcohol? Pair with homemade ginger ale.
Get the cheese on the griddle with this Margherita Grilled Cheese recipe. Pairs nicely with a sauvignon blanc or a light lager.
Learn How to Make Your Own Pairings!
Pairing foods and drinks is a talent. People study a lot to become pros and learn all sorts of delicious combinations.
But, you can learn the essentials and experiment. Make your Blackstone the centerpiece of new meals and combine ingredients with drinks. Your guests will be amazed by your creativity.
Match up your meals with wines from vineyards across the USA. Our country has some great wines, and while you take a sip, you’re helping create jobs.
And if you’re up for some beer, hit up a craft beer brewery from your town or region. Nothing better than some flavor of the community in your meals!
How to Know If a Pairing Is Delicious?
Our guide doesn’t cover a dish you want to griddle up? That doesn’t mean it’s not got a pair – you can match up any ingredient in this world with a beer or wine. Or why not something non-alcoholic?
So, you’ve got to experiment. Cook up the meal you want – let’s say a burger with hash browns. And then check out if it pairs with that wine you’ve got in the fridge.
Here’s how you test if it’s a match:
- Take a small bite and keep it in your mouth
- Take a sip of your drink
- Feel the mix – feel more wine than food? Maybe it’s too overpowering – not a pair
- Feel more food than wine? Maybe it’s underwhelmed by the dish – not a pair
- Both come out equally and smoothly? Do the flavors feel like a dance on your taste buds? That’s a pair! And you’ll know it when you taste it.
So, did you learn a thing or two about pairing? Comment below if you’ve got a question or tell us your favorite pairing.
And send us photo of your drink pairings with griddled meals! Just upload them on social media with #GriddleNation and #BlackstoneGriddles