Pairing wines with student meals

VICTORIA (CUP) – A subscription to Wine Spectator, Food and Wine or Decanter isn’t necessary to figure out what wines a person may find appealing. And finding the appropriate nectar to pair with simpler foods, or less-pricey student fare, can be just as easy if some basic guidelines are followed.

Of course, it never hurts to experiment by going to a wine store, looking around, and grabbing a bottle with a particularly eye-catching label.

“It’s really not that uncommon for the novice wine drinker to do that,” says Ken Stockley, assistant manager at the Everything Wine store in Victoria. Stockley, a wine aficionado, has been in the business of vino for over 15 years. He worked at the Okanagan’s Mission Hill Winery, and did a five-year stint for Mark Anthony Brands, one of the province’s leading wine distributors, prior to his arrival at B.C.’s largest wine store.

Stockley says that pairing wine for under $12 a bottle is easily attainable and that most people, avid wine drinkers or not, are looking for recommendations around that price.

“Red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat is still the golden rule when pairing wine with food,” says Stockley, but he also suggests “drinking what you prefer, no matter what you are eating.”

Foods where either a white or a red is a possibility in pairing are a great starting point for the amateur wine drinker. Pasta with tomato sauce is a dish that works well with either.

“Some will tell you that tomato sauce is very acidic, which can demand a white wine, which tends to be more on the acidic side,” says Stockley. “Others feel that it’s a red sauce, and it’s with pasta, which has some big flavours, so needs a big, more full-bodied red.”

Pinot Grigio, a lighter, more acidic, and un-oaked white could easily work with pasta and tomato sauce, as would a full-bodied Sicilian Nero d’Avola or Argentine Malbec.

Pizza may also be paired with either red or white. If it’s cheese-based, a lighter acidic white such as a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc or an Italian Pinot Grigio would be ideal, with the higher acidity complementing the richness of the cheese. A meat-based pizza would pair very well with an inexpensive Italian Chianti or Spanish Tempranillo.

Asian foods such as stir-fries or sushi also both lend themselves to experimentation where wine pairing is concerned.

“For this style of food, it’s all about German Rieslings and Gewürztraminers,” says Stockley.

These oilier, textured white wines help balance spice, while their sweet fruit and aromatic qualities compliment fatty fish such as tuna and salmon. If red is your preference, a lighter red such as a Spanish Grenache or French Beaujolais would be most appropriate. Stockley recommends chilling it down to soften it.

“Regionally, wine from Chile, Argentina, the region of Toro in Spain and many Italian varietals offer some of the best values,” says Stockley.

However, he says, “The best thing you can do is to not be intimidated when looking to try something a bit different.”

//Brett Blair

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