讓很多葡萄酒愛好者摸不著頭腦的還有一點﹐就是葡萄酒怎麼跟食物搭配的問題。傳統的規則說﹐白葡萄酒配海鮮﹐紅葡萄酒配紅肉。當然﹐任何規則看上去都有點陳詞濫調的意思﹐但通常而言﹐白葡萄酒更配海鮮這是毋庸置疑的事實。不過﹐還有一個更實用的基本原則﹐就是不要考慮葡萄酒的顏色﹐而是考慮葡萄酒的酒體(body)和質地(texture)。用淺顯的非技術語言來講﹐白葡萄酒通常有一定的酸度﹐與檸檬和醋等酸味食品搭配得更好﹐還能讓富含乳脂的醬汁吃起來更可口﹐因此勃艮第(Burgundy)白葡萄酒與多寶魚這類海鮮很搭。味道偏清淡的海鮮適合與蘇瓦韋(Soave)、灰皮諾(Pinot Grigio)或盧瓦河谷的慕思卡黛(Muscadet)葡萄酒搭配﹐而沙丁魚這類油脂較多的海鮮則需要一款口感綿厚、橡木味重一些的霞多麗(Chardonnay)。霞多麗同樣適合煙熏三文魚﹐但你也可以嘗試產自勃艮第區最北部的口感更清新的梅肯紅葡萄酒(Mâcon)或夏布利白葡萄酒(Chablis)。不過﹐薄若萊、盧瓦河谷希儂等口感綿軟的紅酒﹐或者清淡果味的黑皮諾(Pinot Noirs)﹐往往能很好地搭配肉質粗厚一點的魚肉﹐如劍魚或金槍魚扒等。
我喜歡用紅酒配西班牙什錦飯﹐無論里頭有沒有海鮮﹔還喜歡用菲諾幹型雪莉酒(fino sherry)配鯖魚﹐用一款精品香檳配生蠔。不過﹐為什麼白葡萄酒一定要限於配海鮮呢口難道就不能配肉類或蔬菜嗎口還有那道晚宴上必不可少的經典菜肴──奶酪拼盤(cheese board)？
Personally, I prefer to drink my wine at cellar temperature. That is, if it is a red wine between 10 degrees Celsius and 18 degrees Celsius, with heavier reds, such as Australian Shiraz, served toward the higher end of the temperature range and lighter reds, such as Beaujolais, served at the lower end. White wine can be served between four degrees Celsius and 10 degrees Celsius, although, as I said, I prefer mine on the warmer side. Champagne often benefits from being served a little cooler as it accentuates its crisp, refreshing character. There is a trend toward chilling red wines. I would only really advocate this if they are lighter reds, again probably a Beaujolais or a Chinon from the Loire, and their temperature has exceeded that of the cellar. But they really need a quick burst in the fridge, as opposed to an ice bucket.
One area where a lot of us get into an awful muddle is with food, in particular, the old rule that dictates white wine with fish, red wine with meat. Of course, all rules are a little bit of a cliché but generally it cannot be denied that white wine more often than not pairs best with fish. But a good rule of thumb is to think not of the color of the wine, but of its body and texture. Without getting too involved in the technicalities, white wine usually has a fair amount of acidity that works well with tart flavors such as lemon and vinegar. It also cuts through creamy sauces so it makes sense to pair a white Burgundy with a dish such as turbot. Lighter flavored seafood pairs well with Soave,Pinot Grigio or Muscadet from the Loire Valley, while oilier fish such as sardines may need a heavy, oaked Chardonnay. This can also work well with smoked salmon or you may prefer something a little fresher from farther north in Burgundy such as a Mâcon or Chablis. But delicate red wines such as Beaujolais, Chinon from the Loire or light, fruity Pinot Noirs can often match very well with tougher fish such as swordfish or tuna steaks.
I prefer red wine with paella, whether it has fish or not. I also like a dry fino sherry with mackerel and for a very special treat champagne with oysters. But why limit the rule to just fish? What about meat or vegetables? And of course that perennial dinner party course-the cheese board?
Again, it's best to think of how the wine leaves your mouth feeling. A dry, tannic red wine often leaves one's mouth bitter and the tastebuds dry. Heavy meat with a chewy texture can soften that sensation. As a rule of thumb, I prefer to serve red Bordeaux or Châteauneuf-du-Pape with beef, second choice would be a Chilean Syrah. With lamb, generally Rioja. Any sort of poultry or game goes very well with red Burgundy and Pinot Noir. Cru Beaujolais is also a good match.
In the summer months, I would not hesitate to match vegetable dishes with rosé wine, preferably a dry example from Provence. In the winter, a soft, ripe, smooth red wine low in tannin is the order of the day such as Californian Merlot or Argentinean Malbec.
Matching wine with cheese can pose all sorts of pitfalls as certain flavors associated with cheese can react badly with the tannin in red wine. Aged gouda, cheddar and mimolette cheese go very well with red Bordeaux. It may be a cliché but port and stilton work very well together. But in many cases, I prefer to serve a sweet white wine such as Sauternes, which goes superbly with Roquefort cheese.
If you are in any way unsure pairing cheese with wine, I would strongly recommend just opting for Comté. It's hugely versatile and its nutty, caramelized flavor matches superbly with white wines from the Loire such as Sancerre, light red Beaujolais, vintage Champagne and even heavy reds from the Languedoc-Roussillon. In fact, you could say it breaks all the rulebooks.