The history of a wine and food pairing

Wine and food pairing is a subject discussed with great reverence in the world of gourmet dining. Modern gastronomy has written tomes and waxed eloquent on the subtle art of pairing. Any restaurant worth its salt has a sommelier to assist diners in picking the right wine with their food. While it may all seem daunting to the novice, the connoisseur knows the subtle nuances of his wine and how to pair it with exotic ingredients in his food. But before it attained this aura of near mystification, wine and food pairing was much more simpler. Let’s travel back in time and look at the history of pairing.

Olden days

Long, long ago wine was just another beverage, considered safer to drink than the local water. It wasn’t until much later, when regional culinary styles evolved that winemaking transformed too. The roots for the modern day thinking that regional food pairs best with regional wines were perhaps sown then. Wine was consumed as part of a meal, and with whatever food was eaten locally. This practice is still evident in classic pairings of wine and cheese, or meat. For example, French Brie pairs best with the local tannic wine Beaujolais. Or lamb, a staple meat across Europe, pairs best with red wines from regions like Bordeaux, Greece, Provence, Rhone, etc.

The olden day approach was also rather simple. Red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat. While this still holds good as a pairing yardstick today, the recipes have become more complicated. There are complex ingredients, which may completely alter the taste profiles. And that’s where guidebooks and sommeliers come into action.

Modern approach

The turning point for wine and food pairing, as we know it today, can perhaps be traced back to the 1980s. Wine went through a reinvention, and transformed from a beverage meant for intoxication, to an integral part of dining. Food magazines, reviewers, bloggers, chefs and restaurants started suggesting wines that went with their signature dishes. It didn’t stop there. They even suggested course-wise pairings.

The science of pairing

Some people went a step further, and scientifically proved how pairing works. A study conducted in 2012 by a group of food scientists indicates that mouthfeel (the way food feels in the mouth) plays a crucial role in how people interpret food pairing. The study says that foods on the opposite end of the taste spectrum create a pleasant sensation, triggering a good match in the mind. It helped explain how wine and cheese pairing is more than just an art.

Big Banyan preferences

Going by the classic theory of pairing local cuisine with locally produced wine, we’ve listed our preferences here.

Mutton Xacuti & Big Banyan Limited Shiraz: The peppery notes of the Shiraz complement the spices ones of the Xacuti.

Fish Reshado & Big Banyan Sauvignon Blanc: The acidity in the wine cuts through the spice of the fish, creating a delicious harmony.

Bebinca Bellissima: The sweet notes in both the wine and dessert create a perfect melody.

Pork Vindaloo & Big Banyan Cabernet Sauvignon : This heavy bodied red wine is just what pork needs.

Chicken Cafrial & Big Banyan Rosa Rossa: The fruity flavours of this wine pair well with the spice and vinegar in the chicken. The light wine and the light meat go hand in hand.

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