RED WINE AND FOOD MATCHES
duck, spicy beef, pate, rabbit, roasts, spicy poultry,
cheddar, blue cheese, sausage, kidneys
Pinot Noir: braised chicken, cold duck, rabbit, charcuterie, partridge, roasted turkey, roasted beef, lamb, veal, truffles, Gruyeres
Merlot: braised chicken, cold duck, roasted turkey, roasted beef, lamb, veal, stew, liver, venison, meat casseroles
Shiraz: braised chicken, chili, goose, meat stew, peppercorn steak, barbequed meat, spicy meats, garlic casserole, ratatouille
SERVE WINE AT THE BEST TEMPERATURE
Champagne and other sparkling wines should start out totally chilled. Put them in the refrigerator an hour and half before serving or in an ice bucket with an ice-water mixture at least 20 minutes before serving. For vintage-dated Champagne and other high-quality bubbly, however, you should let the bottle then warm up a bit if you don’t want to miss out on the mature character for which you’re probably paying extra.
Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, White Zinfandel and other refreshing white wines should also be chilled to refrigerator temperature (usually 35 to 40 degrees) for an hour and a half before serving. But the better examples, such as barrel-aged wines like Fume Blanc (made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes) will improve if brought out 20 minutes early or allowed to warm up slightly during hors d’ouevres or dinner.
Chardonnay, white Burgundy and other rich, full-bodied and barrel-fermented white wines of high quality taste their best at classic “cellar temperature,” or 55 degrees. Winemakers in France’s Burgundy region know what they’re doing when they offer tastes to visiting journalists and wine buyers directly from the barrels of Chardonnay in their cool, humid underground cellars. So put these into the fridge an hour and half before serving, but bring them out 20 minutes early to warm a bit.
Sweet dessert wines need the same treatment as Sauvignon Blanc, above, with the exception of fortified dessert wines like Port and sweet Sherry, which are better at cellar temperature or warmer. Treat dry Sherry like Sauvignon Blanc, too.
Almost all red wines show their best stuff when served at about 65 degrees—cool, but warmer than cellar temperature. This is not room temperature, unless you happen to live in a Scottish castle or in San Francisco during July. So if you don’t keep your red wine in a cool cellar or cooled storage unit, you will enjoy it more if you chill it for 20 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.
Common Preservative - Sulfites are the oldest and most widespread preservative in our food supply, dating from Roman and Greek times.
They Occur Naturally in Wine - Sulfites naturally occur in wine as it is the grapes’ way of preventing microbial growth (yeasts, molds and bacteria) by killing organisms outright and denying the existing microbes ability to reproduce and oxidization (browning of fruit), and it helps preserve the wine’s natural flavor. White wine has higher sugar content and therefore higher levels of sulfites.
They Occur Naturally in Food - Sulfites are commonly found in other foods such as fruit juice, dried fruits, fruit concentrate, syrups, sugar, jam, baked goods, pizza dough, cheese and prescription drugs in amounts ranging from 6 to 6000 PPM.
There is No Such Thing
as A Sulfite-Free Wine - There is no such thing as a sulfite-free wine;
fermenting yeasts present on all grape skins generate naturally occurring
sulfites (6 to 40 PPM). Wines without added sulfites have a shelf life
of less than one year and must be consumed within 24 hours of uncorking.
FDA Regulated - The FDA regulations stipulate that wine with less than 10 parts per million (PPM) can be regarded as “sulfite-free”. Most wines do not have more than 70 PPM, they can be up to 350PPM but the finished product must be less than 100 PPM.
Allergies - According
to the FDA, only 0.4% of the population is highly allergic to sulfites,
with the highest risk group being asthmatics, where a respiratory distress
reaction may prove life-threatening.
THE EFFECTS OF HISTAMINE, TANNINS AND ETHANOL
*Recent studies indicate that there is no correlation between the histamine or tannic content of wine and wine intolerance.*
Histamine - Histamines are compounds that occur naturally in the skins of grapes, red wines have higher levels as they are fermented in contact with the skins.
A typical histamine reaction includes headache, watery/swollen eyes, flushing, itching, nausea, swelling of the face and/or tongue.
On average there is 10 times more histamine in food than wine, and it is found in foods such as aged cheese, fish, meat, yeast extract and products, and some vegetables.
Intolerance or Allergy? - Only a small amount of a substance is needed to have an allergic reaction. The immune system presumes to be under attack by the substance and reacts accordingly; inducing symptoms such as low blood pressure, flushing, nasal congestion, gastro-intestinal and respiratory distress, watery swollen eyes, swelling of face, nausea, rashes and headaches/migraines.
A Food Intolerance is an adverse reaction that does not affect the immune system.
Effect of Histamine from Wine - It has been theorized an allergic reaction may occur if wine is ingested with histamine rich foods.
Intolerance to wine is not related to the concentration of histamine in wine, but other substances such as acetaldehyde (a histamine releasing substance).
Tannins - Tannins are found in wine; they originate from both the grape skins and seeds, and the hydrolysable tannins extracted from the oak wood the wine is aged in. Tannins are more noticeable in red wines because the juice is fermented in contact with the skins and seeds.
Tannins play an important role in preventing oxidization in aging wine, and appear to polymerize and make up a major portion of the sediment in wine.
Tannins are also found in other food and drink products such as tea, soy and chocolate.
It has been theorized tannins may be responsible for the “Red Wine Headache” as ingesting tannins release serotonin, potentially resulting in headaches.
Ethanol - Grapes are
approximately 80% water and 20% sugar. The grapes turn into wine when
naturally or artificially occurring yeasts turn the sugar into alcohol
during the fermentation process.
The actual type of alcohol created by the yeasts is ethyl alcohol or ethanol, which is one of the four energy sources for the human body.
It has been theorized ethanol may play a role in histamine-related reactions to wine as it accelerates absorption of histamine and may delay the metabolism of histamine in liver which exacerbates the effects of the histamine in the system.