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Alcohol and a hearty meal is a tale as old as time. The reason it is such a brilliant pairing is that you get to enjoy your alcohol of choice without it getting you too drunk, as the food will balance it out. Not only this, but alcohol is typically just a nice drink to have, and if you can pair that with food that you enjoy, then surely you will be in for an enjoyable night.
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Is Wine the Best Pairing For Lasagna?
While wine may be the suggested pairing for lasagna and a lot of other Italian dishes, that does not mean you have to drink it. There is no reason to drink something you may not like just because it is traditional or socially popular. If you do not like wine and want to find another good drink to have, whiskey is always a good choice. If you are in the mood for something sweet then you can order some bourbon, and if you want something a little more flavorsome but strong, a scotch will work well.
Italian cuisine is known for being delicate and elegant which is why wine is often paired with it. The dishes are in perfect balance and have a great taste so the paired drink should also be held to that standard. Wine works well as it is a light drink, meaning it will not get you too drunk, and it is also beautifully crafted to have a well-balanced flavor that will not ruin the flavors from your food.
The Rules Of Wine Pairing
When it comes to wine pairings, there are some rules that you are expected to follow, albeit loosely. It is still completely your choice what you drink, but if you are wanting to go all out on pairing the right wine, then you will have to make sure you check a few things before ordering a glass or bottle of your chosen wine.
The most important rule, if you will call it that, is to make sure you understand why different wines work with different meals. The flavor profiles of wine can help contrast or compliment the flavor of your meal which will either result in a more intensely flavored dish, or you might notice some new tastes altogether.
A huge part of wine flavoring comes from its components. You have the obvious components such as sugar and alcohol, which are both pretty easy to understand. However, you also have another component called the tannins. Tannins are responsible for the oaky flavor, astringent mouthfeel, and sharpness of the wine. Red wines are known for tannins being found in them, yet white wines can also contain tannins, although this is usually after they have been aged in an oak barrel.
While both red and white wines have fruity flavors in them, it is important to know what fruits to expect. White wine is very light and can be quite sweet and citrusy, so you should be able to recognize flavors such as apple, pear, lemon, and lime in the wine. Red wines, on the other hand, are more comprised of subtle fruits such as cherry, plum, and red grapes. They are still sweet in their own right but are a more subtle and behind-the-scenes flavor.
Moving back to the tannins, they play an important role in how you find the food that you pair with them. A wine high in tannins is known to make salty food seem harsher and saltier, while also making a spicy meal taste even spicier than it is. Because of this, you want to pair spicy or salty meals with a wine that does not have many tannins in it, if any at all.
To finalize the guidelines which you should be following, we must talk about age. Whenever prestigious alcohol such as wine or whiskey is mentioned, you are almost guaranteed to hear about the age at some point. There is a very good reason for that. With age, the tannins in the wine will soften and a more delicate and elegant flavor will emerge. This does not mean you should be looking for the oldest bottle you can find, but it is worth remembering this for if you ever have the urge to try something new. Even a simple 5-year-old bottle can surprise you with how different it is when compared to the younger and fresher bottle from the same place.
Best Wine Pairings For Lasagna
Whether you are looking to complement or contrast the flavors of your lasagna, there is definitely going to be a wine out there for you. If you are heading to a restaurant and can find an online menu, it can never hurt to have a peek at the drinks and see what wines they have in stock, how much they are, and then read a little bit about the wines if you can.
Best Red Wine For Meat Lasagna
While there is no definitive ‘best’ red wine that will be universally loved by everyone, there are some that have been proven to be popular. Red wines work best with meat lasagna as they complement the umami flavor found in the meat. With traditional meat lasagna, you will have pasta, beef, Italian sausage, and red sauce. This red sauce will be mostly made of tomatoes which are naturally very sweet so there is no need to choose a sweet wine such as white wine as this will be too much. A nice deep red wine will work brilliantly with all of the flavors found in your meat lasagna.
One of the most popular red wines to pair with a meaty lasagna will be the Italian cabernet sauvignon. There was a surge in popularity when winemakers started to create premium blends using the cabernet sauvignon as an ingredient, yet it is still a fine wine to have by itself. The wine is mostly the same wherever you drink it, but in warmer climates, the flavor is known to show a lot more of the black fruits flavors. On the other hand, in cooler climates, the wine is known to have a more herbal flavor with notes of green bell peppers.
Other great options will include a pinot noir, Sangiovese red, and the Still Red Raboso. The pinot noir is a lighter-bodied red wine that comes from northern Italy while having access to both great sunlight and a cool mountain breeze. This mix of climate has made the perfect wine for someone wanting a deep red that is not too sour while still having a nice fruity flavor.
The Sangiovese red is a great wine for foods with a high intensity such as meaty dishes. The wine has a perfect balance of acidity and tannins which means the wine is a brilliant pairing with a meat dish regardless of its age. The Raboso red wine is a great pairing with a lot of meaty dishes thanks to its high acidity. This is favored by some as the high amount of tannins makes the wine taste different, especially when paired with a heavy dish.
Best White Wine For Vegetable Lasagna
When it comes to vegetable lasagna, you will want to pair it with a nice white wine. The reasoning behind this is that the sweetness of the white wine is well balanced with the flavor of the vegetables. If for dietary or personal reasons you are having to eat vegetarian lasagna and other vegetarian-friendly foods, then it is best you find a white wine you really like as they pair well with almost all vegetable dishes.
One of the more popular choices for a white win is Arneis. The name translates to ‘little rascal’ due to how notoriously finicky the grapes are. They must be picked at the perfect time, but this good timing is well worth it when you get to see the end product.
Pinot Grigio is another very well-known white wine and works well alongside a vegetable lasagna. The flavor is quite floral and the wine is also dry, which can be a preference to some people. Thanks to the lower amount of tannins in white wine, you can replace the tomato sauce in your lasagna with something a bit spicier without suffering from the added spice from tannins.
Best Wine For Pesto Lasagna
A pesto lasagna breaks up the simplicity of the other dishes by using ingredients that are unorthodox for it. These ingredients are parmesan cheese, olive oil, and pine nuts. While being less popular than the other two, pesto lasagna is very herbal and delicious, and there is always a wine that can pair with it.
The fragrance of the lasagna can be suited with a wine pairing of Vermentino. This is a white wine that is known mostly in northwest Italy and southern France for how bitter and sharp it is. While this may sound offputting, the bitterness cuts right through the herbal flavors of pesto, allowing you to taste every ingredient like you never have before. Southern France is also very popular for wine vineyards such as the Bordeaux.
It’s Culinary Science, Not Rocket Science…
While it may be overwhelming at the start, you will eventually get more comfortable with trying different wine pairings with time. If you are that stuck and cannot decide which wine to order, you can always ask a waiter or server and they will be more than happy to help. Whether you like a full-bodied red or a sweet and tart white wine, there is the perfect bottle out there for you.