A five minute guide to how better enjoy drinking with food.
One of the most common questions we field in the wine business is “what is the best food to pair with this wine?"
The short answer is - Stop fucking overthinking it. The art of food and wine pairing is a beautiful and complex one, that sommeliers across the world have taken years to master, and when it is done well, it can be magical. But we are not all Michelin-starred sommeliers and most meals we eat are not ten-course tasting menus The way we eat and drink at home or with friends is very different and the whole mentality of ”white wine with chicken or fish and red wine with beef” is not reflective of the way we eat today.
More importantly, the classic, run-of-the-mill pairings based on proteins fail to acknowledge everything else on the plate - it’s always the most dominant flavour on the plate that will make the wine sing or flop. You’re having fish with a lemon, butter and caper sauce? You better be thinking about that salty/acidic sauce first before the mild fish underneath.
For the most part, we choose to give food recommendations with our wines, but here are some general flavour matches that will never fail to disappoint.
Heat loves Sugar
Bit of spice in your dinner? Eating Thai or Sichuan food? Sugar has the ability to soothe the burn from the chillies in these fiery cuisines, so look for wines that classically have some residual sweetness - like German Riesling, or something from the Alsace.
Protein loves Tannin
The trope of steak and red wine is very overdone, but there is some science that explains why it works so well. When paired with dishes high in proteins and fats (such as hard cheese or red meat), tannins in wine will bind to those proteins, making them appear softer and more supple on the palate. So yes, red wine and steak works, but you can go deeper and think about red wines high in tannin - Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mataro, to name a few - for a next level drinking experience.
Fat loves Acid
Lots of butter? Or mounds of deep-fried goodness on your plate? There is nothing better than tingling acidity to balance out that richness. Sparkling wine and Riesling are both famous for their acidity, but there are plenty of others to think about - white wines generally have great acid, or lighter reds like Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo or Barbera.
But the key is - be relaxed! - Wine (and food) are both subjective, and there is no end to the possible combinations you can discover just by keeping an open mind!
So what do you drink with Fried Chicken? Fried chicken is one of the great drinking foods, and if you think chicken and beer are the best way to go, you’re missing a trick. Here at Yatbui, we got together and put some famous fried chicken to the test - here are the best pairings for you
KFC Crispy Strips
Crunchy on the outside, lean on the inside, these bad boys went down a treat with our Tenuta di Castellaro ‘Marsili’ Pet Nat. The tart, cruncy, fresh raspberry acidity gets along a dream with those 11 secret herbs and spices. Dipping in mash and gravy obligatory (chicken, not the wine).
Chicken Hof & Soju Korean Spicy Wings
Some of the best wings in town. Although this was the first time we tried them without the obligatory beer towers, it will be hard to go back after trying them with Keller Von Der Fels Trocken Riesling. The Limey acidity is a perfect foil to the hot mess of fryer oil and chicken fat, while the hint of residual sugar cools the burn of their famous spicy sauce
Pretty much the pinnacle of fried chicken (fight me), the Chickenjoy from Jolibee is a carnal delight that needs to be eaten to be believed. The only way to do it justice, of course, is with champagne. Why? Because all that delicious, delicious fat needs some acidity to cleanse the palate. For us, we couldn’t go past Heri-Hodie Champagne from Roger Coulon. This champagne is “Extra Brut” style, so has half the amount of sugar as traditional champagnes, meaning the acid is even more prounouced. The perfect way to show the proper respect to the “famous” Chickenjoy.
Words by Brett Goss
Photos by Gideon de Kock