There are plenty of unnecessary rules on just about everything you can do in the kitchen. That includes the drinks that you pour for yourself and your guests. Notorious rule-breaker Anthony Bourdain thinks that many rules — especially a pretentious whiskey rule — should be broken. But it’s possible that he feels a little differently about the rules on food and wine pairings.
Bourdain hasn’t commented, at least to our knowledge, on the traditional rules about which foods should go with which wines. But we think that he’d agree that there are at least a few foods that just don’t taste right with any wine, no matter how pricy the bottle.
Below, check out the foods that you should never pair with wine.
Bon Appétit characterizes the artichoke as “the World Champion Hardest Pairing Vegetable of all Time.” The publication explains that even top sommeliers can’t figure out what to do with artichokes. This vegetable contains a compound, called cynarine, that messes with the taste of your wine. As Bon Appétit explains, cynarine “makes everything taste sweeter than it actually is because it knocks out your taste receptors and inhibits you from experiencing acidity, bitterness, and saltiness. This leaves wine, yes, tasting sweeter, but also flat and one-note because the cynarine has robbed you of the wine’s other characteristics.”
You may heard that asparagus just doesn’t pair well with wine. But chances are good that you don’t know why. As Wine Folly explains, there are two compounds at fault. The first are the sulfurous compounds in asparagus, which can actually mimic the taste of a wine fault. The second is the green, herbaceous flavor introduced by the high levels of chlorophyl in the vegetable. You’d be hard-pressed to find a wine that pairs well with asparagus, so you might want to choose a different drink to serve.
3. Blue cheese
Many types of cheese pair easily with wine. But don’t assume that blue cheese numbers among them. According to Wine Folly, even sommeliers have a hard time pairing wines with blue cheese and other blue-veined cheeses. As the publication explains, “This is most likely because the blue cheese has a high presence of a particularly odiferous aroma compound called alkan-2-ones which is also found in sphagnum swamp moss.” Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? Blue cheese typically overpowers most of the wines that go well with cheese. So you’ll probably want to avoid this pairing.
4. Brussels sprouts
Hoping to select a wine that pairs well with your Brussels sprouts? Wine Folly reports that you’re not going to find one. The earthy and sulfurous flavors of this cruciferous vegetable pose some major challenges that even the best sommeliers can’t surmount. In fact, Brussels sprouts almost always make wine taste bad because of the vegetable’s organosulfur compounds. These compounds — also found at varying levels in asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and garlic — mimic the taste of a wine fault. Unless you go with very specific wines, you should pick a different beverage to serve with your Brussels sprouts.
Chefs and sommeliers alike always warn that you should never pair chocolate with wine. Wine Folly reports that there’s a good reason for that warning. “Tasting chocolate adds a few sensations to your palate including textured chocolate tannin, fattiness, sweetness and an earthy flavor. When you finish this taste with a dry red wine, the wine scrapes the fattiness and sweetness from your palate leaving harsh tannins and a sour note of wine.” Even worse? The wine’s more subtle flavors get lost thanks to the chocolate. There may be a few rare pairings that can make it work. But in most cases, you should enjoy chocolate and wine separately, not together.
If you’re serving a dish where eggs are the star, then you might want to reach for something other than a bottle of wine. As Great Courses Daily reports, eggs “can coat your palate, especially when they are a bit undercooked.” The problem with that? “With a coated palate, wine will just slip right by you and you won’t even notice it.” Plus, the sulfurous flavors in eggs can play up the sulfur in the wine, making even a great wine taste unpleasant. But the publication does have a piece of advice for getting around the problem. Instead of serving your eggs poached or sunny-side up, incorporate them into a quiche instead. Then, you should be able to find a good pairing without problems.
Bon Appétit cites kale as another vegetable that proves nearly impossible to pair with wine. Just like asparagus and Brussels sprouts, kale contains high levels of organosulfur compounds. (As the publication puts it, those compounds are really just “straight up sulfur.) Consequently, kale can make even the best wine taste awful. “When the compounds come in contact with wine, it makes the wine taste overly sulfuric and flawed, like a glass of burnt rubber or rotten eggs,” Bon Appétit explains.
8. Soy sauce
If you plan to east something with soy sauce, then you should also plan to drink something other than wine. Wine Folly counts soy sauce as one of the hardest foods to pair with wine thanks to this condiment’s incredibly bold flavor. As the publication explains, soy sauce gets its flavor from fermented soy beans, wheat, and salt. “The aromatics of soy are reminiscent of wheat berries and the flavor has a bold salty-sour umami flavor.” But pairing the sour taste of soy sauce with a not-so-sour wine poses major problems. In fact, Wine Folly says that soy sauce can make your wine “taste flabby.” That doesn’t sound particularly appealing.
Interestingly enough, sushi also lands on the list of foods that you should never pair with wine. You may heard the rule before, without much evidence to back it up. But Wine Folly reports that researchers in Japan actually conducted a study to determine why fish and red wine don’t pair well. The results? The small amounts of iron in red wine can bond with the fish oils and stick to your palate, leaving you with a fishy but metallic aftertaste.
If you plan on eating a dish that goes heavy on the vinegar, you shouldn’t plan to pair it with wine. As Great Courses Daily explains, “Vinegar is spoiled wine, and it makes sense that you shouldn’t pair spoiled wine with wine.” If the taste of vinegar dominates a dish, then it can make even a delicious wine taste terrible. But the good news is that if you just add a little bit of vinegar to a dish, and its flavor doesn’t dominate, then it shouldn’t be a problem to drink wine with that dish.
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