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Follow Ashlee Cuneo, the General Manager & Sommelier of Miraflores, as she writes articles, all relating to wine, for the bi-monthly, Reno-based magazine, Bliss Babe

The Basics of Wine & Food Pairing: Try it this Summer!

Well, it’s official. Spring has officially sprung and soon summer will be here before we know it!  As we know with the heat of summer comes incredible produce, which leads to amazing recipes that pair with delicious wine! As a Sommelier, I often get the question, “How do you know which wines to pair with food?” There are so many ways to pair summer dishes with wine and I would love to share a few of my go-to pairings secrets with you!

To be able to pair wine with food, the most basic method is to match the color of the wine to the color of the food you would like to pair with it. Who ever knew it could be so simple?? For example, if you are trying to figure out a dish to pair with a dry Rose’, choose foods that are pink and light red: Pan Seared Salmon, a salad that includes red and pink fruit like raspberries and cherries, or a watermelon gazpacho (just make sure the gazpacho is not too sweet or else you will need to pair it with a sweeter wine).

There are essentially five basic tasting components to wine: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami (savory). There are two ways that a wine and food pairing can be done, either by the “Compare” method which is matching the flavors of the wine to the flavors of the food or by using “Contrast” method which would involve pairing wine with a dish that has the complete opposite flavor of the wine (for example: a salty food item paired with a sweet wine).

Acidity is a very important component of both wine and food. Acidity is the “sourness” in wine that makes your taste buds salivate. When using the “compare” method of pairing, use food and wine of equal acidity to pair with each other (for example, Barbera and tomatoes). When using the “contrast” method of pairing, try pairing a rich dish with an acidic wine to cleanse the palette (for example, a rich cream sauce paired with a crisp, unoaked Chardonnay). With sweet wines, the general rule of thumb is to match equally sweet desserts, otherwise one will overpower the other.

If you follow these simple rules, I guarantee that you will have the ultimate success with your pairings this summer. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and just make it fun! Cheers!

Miraflores Winery holds annual Food & Wine PAIRINGS every summer on their patio. Every weekend a different chef prepares a four course lunch and Ashlee Cuneo pairs Miraflores wines with each course. You don’t want to miss these amazing events!

2017 Dates: Every Saturday and Sunday, starting June 17th & 18th through October 1st.

Price: $39 Club Members/$47 General. Call (530) 647-8505 for reservations.

Article by Ashlee Cuneo, “The Sierra Foothills Somm”
Sommelier, & General Manager of Miraflores Winery, transplanted from Sonoma County and exploring all the hidden gems the Sierras have to offer!