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The Switch-Up

Going beyond the usual food and wine pairings

by Leslie Clark
Wondering what to drink with sushi? Read on to find out. (Photo by TheDLC on Flickr, Oct. 7, 2011)

Everyone knows about the tried-and-true rules of serving white wine with fish and red with steak – it can all get a little monotonous sometimes. What about other types of beverages and styles of cuisine? Your favourite dishes can benefit from a little something different now and then. Here are some tips for sparking a little chemistry with your matches.

Sushi: Sake, cold or hot, will make your meal feel more authentic. If you’re not a fan, you can try a refreshing light beer. This works especially well with fried dishes like tempura, anything salty, or a variety of spicy sushi rolls. Sake is a good counterpoint to sushi’s strong flavours and textures.

Pasta: It seems natural to pair lighter white wine with pasta — and it is a good choice with creamy, cheese-based dishes. However, the acidity of heartier tomato sauces, or anything with olives, can hold up to red wine.

Pizza: A carefully crafted wood-oven pizza deserves to star alongside something special. If yours includes ingredients like gourmet cheeses or specialty sausage, try a sparkling wine. The combination is whimsical and the bubbles will highlight both the sweetness of the tomato sauce and balance the richness of the other ingredients.

Dessert: This seems like a place where syrupy sweet liqueur would be natural, but something more refreshing can have interesting results. Pies and cakes can often be heavy, so consider a cocktail made with something fizzy. If your dessert includes fruit, a sweeter white wine can offset the tartness.

Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new the next time you’re choosing food and drink pairings. In the end, the most important thing about eating and entertaining is enjoyment. If you like what you’ve picked out, and it’s something you can be proud to serve your guests, chances are good that they’ll appreciate your efforts.

Photo by Darek Gavey on Flickr, January 9, 2010


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