Top Tips for Serving Wine with Red Meat

As a general rule, most of us accept that red meat works best with red wine. As red wines are usually heavier in body and have a bolder taste, it is usually our first choice to match the richer taste of red meat. But with so many varieties of both red meat and wine, what should you be serving with each type of red meat? This week, Ideal Wine Company is bringing you our favourite suggestions for serving wine with red meat.

Ideal Wine Company red meat and wine
With so many varieties of both red meat and wine, what should you be serving with each type of red meat?

Lean meat – go light

Due to the higher tannic value, alcohol content and antioxidant density, bold red wines are perfect for red meat. The fat content of the protein-dense food takes us a while to digest and is, therefore, best met with a heavy red wine. A rich cut of red meat, such as a prime rib, pairs nicely with a bold and high tannin red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Should you be using a relatively lean cut of red meat, try using a wine with lower tannins and a lower alcohol percentage. A rule worth remembering is the leaner the meat, the lighter the wine.

Lamb requires delicacy

Unlike most other red meats, lamb is delicate in both flavour and texture. As a result of this, you’ll want to adjust your wine match slightly to accommodate for this. Selecting a bolder red wine with a smoother tannin should work well. A Syrah or a Malbec are perfect options for lamb.

A top tip to remember is that lamb often takes on the flavour of any sauce that is paired with it. This means you should pay close attention to whatever sauce is being served with the meat before choosing your wine.

Match the intensity

When it comes to pairing beef with wine, there are several variables that must come into consideration. With so many ways to serve the meat, this can alter your wine selection drastically. For leaner cuts of beef, look for a light or medium-bodied red wine. These should have a slightly higher acidity that is useful for cutting through the texture of the lean meat.

For fatty cuts of beef, look for a bold red wine with high tannin. As tannins are astringents that work as a palate cleanser, these tannins help to lighten your palate between bites. Our top choices for serving with fatty meats are wines like a Barolo or a Napa Cabernet.

Should you be serving your beef in a stew, you’ll want to match the intensity of the dish with a wine. For example, a top sirloin beef stew works perfectly with a slightly bolder, medium red. A Sangiovese is an excellent choice.

It’s all about the sauce

If you’re serving your red meat with a sauce, this becomes an important aspect to consider. These can drastically alter the taste of the meat and can even open up a wider range of wine for you to choose from.

  • Tangy sauces: Let’s take BBQ sauces for example, look for a fruity red wine. Lambrusco, Shiraz, Syrah, Zinfandel, Primitivo and Negroamaro are all good starting points.
  • Green sauces: Whether this is a mint sauce or a chimichurri, look for fruity bold red wines with smoother tannins. Try opting for a Malbec or a Monastrell.
  • Tomato sauces: The classic Italian Marinara sauce is often paired well with red meat. If you’re serving a tomato sauce, a medium-bodied red with good acidity is perfect, such as a Sangiovese, Merlot or a Bardolino.
  • White sauces: Creamy white sauces offer a variety of pairing options. From peppercorn sauce to a Béchamel, you’ll want to base your choice on the strength of the sauce. A peppercorn sauce works well with Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, due to their peppery notes. A Béchamel requires a medium-bodied red, such as a Valpolicella Ripasso. The power of the white sauce is key here, so it’s worth considering how powerful your sauce will be in the dish.

No matter how you’re serving your red meat, red wine will always make the perfect accompaniment. Match your intensity and concentrate on how lean your dish is and you’ll enjoy the perfect pairing!

Alternative Ways to Pair Champagne and Food

We all know the classic pairings for Champagne. From caviar to oysters, these traditional options are tried and tested delights. But why not try something new or perhaps a little unusual? There are a wide range of foods that pair perfectly with Champagne and step outside the ordinary. This week, Ideal Wine Company brings you some alternative ways to pair Champagne with food.

Ideal Wine Company Champagne and food pairings
We all know the classic pairings for Champagne, but here are some alternative ways to pair Champagne with food.

Macaroni Cheese – soft and creamy match made in heaven

When thinking of food to serve with Champagne, macaroni cheese may not be the obvious first choice. But when the balance of flavours is right, these two work together incredibly well. There are a few important variables to perfect with your pasta before this can work. Make sure that your cheese is not too sharp, so consider opting for a softer creamy cheese with flavour. A good smoked gouda is perfect. When it comes to the Champagne, your wine needs to be acidic enough to cut through the cheese. Balance is key to pairing Champagne and macaroni cheese, but a great rule of thumb is to keep the cheese soft and let the wine be slightly bolder. The perfect comforting pairing!

Spring rolls with spicy sweet chilli sauce – opt for sweetness

This popular dish is often a snack or starter and can make a surprisingly good pair for Champagne. The goal of this balance is to reduce the fat of the spring rolls and increase the lightness of the vegetables. To do this, look for a Champagne with low acidity and opt for a big bubble finesse. A good rule to remember for pairing spring rolls and Champagne is to meet spiciness with sweetness. The more heat you add, the sweeter your Champagne should be. This provides a delicious balance that is unexpected but delicious.

Fried mushrooms – look for fruity and earthy notes

Although it may sound unusual, Champagne and fried foods are the perfect pairing. The greasy richness of these foods is elevated by the sweet bubbles of Champagne. A great example of this is fried mushrooms. Try opting for a Blanc de Noirs, a white sparkling wine made with dark grapes such as Pinot Noir. The earthiness found in mushrooms is complemented by the rich fruity and earthy notes that can be found in options such as a Blanc de Noir. A slight sweetness will go a long way in lightening this dish.

Fish tacos – high acidity for zingy food

Fish tacos present a wide range of flavours. From zingy lightness provided by the limes to the heat of the chilli to the subtly of the fish, there is a careful balancing act of flavours in place. A super dry and crisp Champagne will fit perfectly into this. These wines have little or no added sugar, meaning they’ll keep up with the zesty flavour of the dish. If the fish has lime or salsa added to it, it’s key that you find a Champagne with even higher acids. This means the wine will taste bright. As well as this, look for a good sharpness and minerality prevents the wine from tasting too flat. With a good balance, Champagne and fish tacos create a light and lively pairing.

Don’t be afraid to ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to your Champagne pairings. While the classics work well, there are plenty of alternative pairings that can widen your use of Champagne. There’s no longer any need to save the Champagne for special occasions!

Pairing Wine with Indian Food

Undoubtedly Indian food is one of the nation’s favourite dishes. With intense flavours and heavy spices, Indian meals can be difficult to pair with wine. Add in the wide array of curries, sauces and chutneys on offer and the flavour profile becomes even harder to define. But you can enjoy many wines with your Indian food, which is why this week Ideal Wine Company is bringing you our top tips for pairing Indian food with reds and whites.

Ideal Wine Company Wine and Indian Food
Ideal Wine Company are showing you how to pair Indian food with red and white wine.

Basics to consider

Bold dishes require simpler wines, that’s the main thing to remember. Anything too strong or bold will be competing for dominance. A wine known for its simplicity will help to balance out the flavours of your meal and contribute to a better overall taste.

To help further balance the dish, there are considerations to bear in mind. Look at how spicy the dish is and the base of the sauce. This will give you a good starting point for matching your wine.

Spicy curries and tomato-based sauces – fruity and light

Blending together tomatoes and curry paste is a popular base for Indian curries and creates a highly spiced meal. This combination can be found in common favourites, such as Vindaloo, Masala, Baingan, Jalfrezi and Bharta sauces. As they create a spicy taste, you’ll want to counteract this heat and intense flavour. Ideally, do this with something light and fruity that can be served cool. This will allow the spice to remain the dominant flavour, the tomatoes to be complemented by fruity notes and the cool temperature to provide a welcome coolness. For this, try opting for rosé, as its fresh notes of fruit provide a good counter. If you’re a red wine drinker, a medium bodied option, such as a Pinot Noir or GSM blend, will provide a depth of fruity flavour.

Green sauces – stick to a classic dry white

These green curries get their colour through leafy greens being slow cooked with cream, onions and spices. Coriander is also prominent in a large variety of these sauces. In doing this, a herby and delicious dish is created. Due to the herbaceous and freshness of this curry, it’s best to stick with a classic option. Most herb-dominated dishes work well with a dry white wine that highlights the lean green profile. With these dishes, we recommend trying a dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc. These whites are the perfect option. Should you fancy something livelier, a good dry sparkling wine can make a great match too. Try opting for an extra-brut sparkling wine to match the herbal lightness of the dish.

Cream sauces – tart fruitiness and medium tannins

Whether your sauce uses heavy cream, yoghurt or coconut milk, these dishes usually have a thick sauce. Notably examples are dishes like Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken and Kormas. The cream softens the rich spices, as the fats in the cream absorb and diffuse the spices throughout the dish. As these are usually less heat-driven, they are one of the easiest types of curries to pair with wine. Deep reds with a medium tannin are ideal for cream based curries. Look out for subtle brown baking spice flavours and a tart fruitiness to enhance your dish. A Zinfandel or Carignan is usually a good place to start.

When it comes to Indian food, wines with simple, well-defined flavours are the best option. These are better at creating harmony between your food and drink. Should your Indian food be particularly spicy, there are 3 main traits your wine should have: serve chilled, pair with wine that’s lower in alcohol content and drink a wine with some sweetness.

How to Serve Bold Reds with Vegan and Vegetarian Food

With January assigned as the month for resolutions and change, many of us are trying to go without meat this month. But as the ‘Veganuary’ campaign encourages more of us to try a vegan diet, we’re met with the assumption that wine pairing with vegan or vegetarian food is limited. Ideal Wine Company is here to dispel this myth. This week, we’re bringing you top tips and ideas for pairing vegan and vegetarian food with bold reds.

Ideal Wine Company wine and vegan and vegetarian food
Here’s our guide to serving bold reds with vegan and vegetarian food.

Think of wine as an ingredient

Trying to incorporate wine into your dish can be difficult. While we’re met with an extensive list of wines that pair with meat, removing this element makes the process a little bit harder. Breaking down wine into its structural taste components, such as sweet, bitter sour, will help you to understand what the wine is bringing to your meal. Treating it as an ingredient will ensure that you approach wine as something actively involved with your food. As the goal of pairing wine and food is to balance out key flavours, knowing what your wine is adding to the mix is key.

Know the taste profiles of a bold red wine

Bold red wines bring a great deal of power and flavour to food. To pair a bold red with vegetarian or vegan food, it is important to understand the fundamental taste components of the wine.

  • Bitterness: You can discover how bitter your wine is by looking at the pigment and tannin. High quantities of these two elements add bitterness and astringency to wine, which has a palate cleansing effect. The features of bitterness need to be offset with your food. Try pairing caramelized roast vegetables with a wine with a slight bitterness to balance the dish.
  • Acid: Full-bodied reds are typically acid, so often contain a fundamental sourness. Take advantage of this by letting your wine act as a balancing force. With acidic wines, baked grains, fruit and roasted vegetables are key ingredients that offset sourness.
  • Intensity level: There’s no doubt that a full-bodied red is a bold choice. To compete with your wine choice, your meal will need to have a similar level of intensity.

Ideas for pairing:

Malbec – robust tannins perfect for bold flavours

Bringing fruity notes, a medium to full-bodied is known for flavours of blackberry, cherry and plum. These rich and dark notes are often complemented by notes of leather and a sweet tobacco finish. With these strong flavours, a Malbec will stand up well against spices. Opt for pairing your Malbec with Cajun flavours, baked potatoes or black pepper.

Try serving Malbec with a cauliflower steak. Simply a large cut of cauliflower that is roasted, it can be treated similarly to a steak and paired with seasoning and sauces of your choice. A Malbec will easily handle any spices and provide a welcome pep to your dish.

Pinot Noir – fragrant and herbal

This silky red is known for intense flavours of ripe cherries, summer berries and wild strawberries. This lush tasting wine works well with mushrooms, legumes and fruit-based sauces. Suited to light food, a Pinot Noir is ideal for Mediterranean and Asian dishes.

This means a Pinot Noir will pair perfectly with a green lentil curry. The fragrant and herbal notes of the wine will complement the spices on offer in the hearty Indian dish.

Beaujolais cru – juicy and acidic

Made with Gamay Noir Grapes, this French wine has primary flavours of raspberry, tart cherries and cranberries. With notes of mushroom, smoke and violet, this wine provides a good balance of earthiness to your dish.

Try pairing your dish with ratatouille. The collection of vegetables in the dish, from tomatoes to aubergine, are matched perfectly by the smokiness and slight fruitiness of a Beaujolais cru. This allows the variety of vegetables to interplay perfectly, while the wine still provides balance.

Just because your diet is meat-free, it doesn’t mean you must give up red wine. These dishes can definitely stand up to a bold red, so don’t be afraid to be bold with your flavours too. It’s also important to remember to also look that the wine itself is vegan or vegetarian. With all this in place, your vegan or vegetarian diet can be complemented by the perfect red.

Delicious Pairings of Wine and Chocolate

At Christmas, there’s always  a bountiful supply of amazing chocolate available. From chocolate boxes to desserts, it’s everywhere you turn! At the Ideal Wine Company, we’ve been working on the perfect wine and chocolate pairings to add to the indulgence this festive period. Here are our top tips for pairing the two.

Tips to pair your chocolate and wine successfully

  • Keep things simple: start with a wine that is slightly sweeter than the chocolate. As both wine and chocolate carry their own strong intensity, using a sweeter wine will allow the chocolate to dominate and the wine to complement.
  • Opt for a similar style and weight: when it comes to pairing wine and chocolate, look for similarities. A good rule to remember is the stronger the chocolate, the stronger the wine. As well, dark chocolate tends to pair well with dry tannin texture.
  • Taste from light to dark: similar to a formal wine tasting, it is best to move from light chocolate to dark chocolate if you are eating different varieties. Start with white or milk chocolate, paired with a light-bodied wine and move onto dark chocolate and full-bodied wines. Through starting with the understated flavours if white chocolate and ending on dark chocolate, your palate will not be overwhelmed. You will still be able to notice the subtle sweetness and notes of delicate chocolate and wine.

Ideal Wine Company autumn wineWhite chocolate – mellow and sweet

When pairing your white chocolate with wine, be aware of the high percentage of cocoa fat. This creates a smooth and buttery flavour and a creamy texture. Due to this mellowness, white chocolate works well with sweeter wines. Try a sherry or a Muscat, which will pick up the creaminess and highlight any subtle fruit notes within the chocolate.

An alternative route to take is opting for contrast. This bolder option takes the higher alcohol and full-bodied flavour of a wine such as a Zinfandel to oppose the mellow sweetness of the chocolate. Using the tannin content to soften the chocolate’s fat allows an unexpected balance.

Milk chocolate – light and silky

A popular choice, milk chocolate’s cream content provides a little element of fat. This addition helps it to pair well with wine. When working with these cocoa butter components and the smooth character of the chocolate, try pairing it with a medium-bodied red. The ripeness, silky tannins and lighter body of a Pinot Noir makes an excellent choice, while a medium-bodied Merlot will also work well. Their bright acidity and fruit flavours will accent the chocolate and hold up well against milk chocolate’s smooth and sweet profile.

Dark chocolate – bold and dense

Dark chocolates contain a high cacao content, which means that a wine must be able to handle this intensity. Ideally, you should be looking for a wine that offers a fuller body, intense flavours and robust aromas. Look for wines that contain bold fruit notes. A Zinfandel handles dark chocolate particularly well, due to its combination of spices and dense fruit flavours. Full-bodied wines are the way forward for dark chocolate.

The goal of this pairing is to balance the tastes, sweet or bitter. Whether you choose to try a wide variety of chocolate or indulge in your favourite, looking at what elements make up your chocolate make it easier to pair and enjoy.