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Successful wine and food pairing can be daunting, but it's worth experimenting with matching wine and food because the right combination creates flavors that are vastly superior to how the wine and food taste independently. There are many different factors to consider when pairing food and wine, but first it's helpful to look at the big picture: the different levels of success or failure one can achieve when pairing wine with food, from poor to refreshing, good, and synergistic pairings.
What makes wine so attractive, interesting, and enjoyable is the amazing, complex array of flavors and aromas which individual wines produce. Each bottle of wine can be its own unique experience. If wines are all produced from simple grapes, though, how do they manage to produce so many different flavors and aromas? If wines are basically just fermented grape juice, why don't wines taste like grape juice? The answer to this question is the answer to what makes wine special.
Some wines that you buy say that the come from such-and-such a winery while other wines say they come form such-and-such a vineyard, but what's the difference between a winery and a vineyard? Is a vineyard better than a winery, or do some wine producers simply adopt the "vineyard" label because it sounds better? That's not an entirely unreasonable concern because there are no legal standards for the use of these terms — any wine producer can all themselves a winery or vineyard if they want.
If you are going to learn very much about wine, you need to learn about — and get to know — the so-called "Big Six" wine or grape varieties. The Big Six wine grapes are: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. These six wine grape varieties make up about 80% of all wines made around the world, so familiarity with the flavors and aromas of these six grapes means you'll be familiar with most of the wines you will encounter.
There are frequent references in wine articles and wine books to "seasonal" wines — wines that are better for summer, fall, winter, or spring. How can a wine be better suited to one season rather than another? What makes one wine more of a "summer wine" but another more of a "winter wine"?
There is no simple formula for wines being seasonal; instead, it's a question of what wines feel like and how a wine pairs not just with food, but also with the surrounding temperature or weather.
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