It's commonly known that red wines go with steak and white wines go with fish or poultry. That is a good way to start the intricate "art" of pairing foods and wines but once you've done that several times you might start to get curious as to what other type of pairings there could be.
There are several aspects of a wine or food that you could utilize when planning pairings whether it be solely on the type of body the wine has -- is it heavy or light, creamy or buttery?
Common flavor profiles in white wines such as Chardonnays, Rieslings, Pinot Grigios, Sauvignon Blancs, Torrontes are citrus, apple, pear, peach, apricot, mango, pineapple, floral tones, melon and butter.
Some flavor notes found in red wines such as Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, Pinot Noirs and Shiraz are blackberry, cranberry, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, spices, plum and cherry.
A notable quality of red wines is the higher presence tannins which are what gives red wines their pucker element or the "dry mouth" sensation that comes with a lot of red wines. As it was explained to me a long time ago it's the by-product of the stems, seeds and peel of the grapes used in the wine making process.
Once you get a bit more familiar with identifying the different flavor profiles you can start playing around with food and wine flavor pairings. A good example would be pairing Pinot Noir with a poultry dish. Duck makes a nice pairing because of the sweeter cherry and black berry notes found in Pinot Noirs and the natural fat con
tent of duck and the more "gamy" flavor play along quite nicely to enhance the body of the wine and the duck will be well complimented by the sweetness of the Pinot.
Roasted duck thighs
4-6 raw duck thighs
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoon black cracked pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cups apple juice
Preheat your oven at 375 degrees combine all the spices. Place the duck thighs on a cooking rack on top of a roasting pan (so that the fat drips on to the pan and stays separated from the meat) once on the rack pour some of the apple juice on to the duck and then sprinkle some of the spice mixture on top of the thighs place in hot oven and cook for 13-15 minutes then turn the thighs on to the opposite side and apply more juice and lightly some of the spice mix place back in the hot oven for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and nice and crispy remove from oven and serve you can accompany the thighs with garlic mashed potatoes steamed asparagus and a nice glass of Pinot Noir.
Rov Avila, a native of Honduras, is executive chef at YachtSea Grille and a culinary arts instructor at MTI Culinary Arts.