& Cuisine - Your first thought is probably something
like "What is this all about?" And then that is more
than likely followed by "How is this different from Foods
& Wines?" Well, there is no disputing that they are
related but they are also quite different. The answer is found
in the definitions of 'cuisine' and 'foods' with wine being
a common connecting element. So what is the difference?
is defined as a style or characteristic manner of food preparation
that is associated with a particular entity such as a country,
region, culture, restaurant, etc. Foods on the other hand is
defined as material, usually of plant or animal origin, that
contains or consists of essential body nutrients, such as carbohydrates,
fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals, and is ingested and assimilated
by an organism to produce energy, stimulate growth, and maintain
life or, in other words, pretty much anything that we eat.
So now you
can see that there is a difference between discussing Foods
& Wines where the emphasis might be on a single food group
such as beef and considering Wine & Cuisine where we might
be focusing on Spanish, Jamaican, Tuscan or similar cuisine.
In the section,
Foods & Wines, we discussed the idea of wine selection
that was primarily based on the foods that were being prepared
and served. This was particularly the case with our chart on Wine
Pairings. Now, here in Wine & Cuisine, we are going to talk
about wine selection but with more of an emphasis on the cuisine
that is being prepared. Certainly
there is overlap between these approaches but they do provide
a varied insight into creating a truly great wine experience.
will be centered around some of the major countries, regions and
cultures that have provided us with so much background to wine
enjoyment and who are undoubtedly the roots of Wine & Cuisine.
French Cuisine - as the name implies originated in France,
developed from centuries of social and political change. In
the Middle Ages, French cuisine was renown for its heavy use
of spices. In the 17th century, La Varenne and the notable chef
of Napoleon and other dignitaries, Marie-Antoine Carême,
moved toward fewer spices and more liberal usage of herbs and
creamy ingredients, signaling the beginning of modern cuisine.
Cheese and wine are a major part of the cuisine, playing different
roles regionally and nationally with many variations and appellation
d'origine contrôlée (AOC) (regulated appellation)
was codified in the 20th century by Georges Auguste Escoffier
to become the modern version of haute cuisine, however Escoffier
left out much of the regional culinary character to be found
in the regions of France. Gastro-tourism and the Guide Michelin
helped to acquaint people with the rich bourgeois and peasant
cuisine of the French countryside starting in the 20th century.
Gascon cuisine has also had great influence over the cuisine
in the southwest of France.
lends itself to pairing with wine as much of it was built on
the ideas of cooking with wine. The most important thing to
remember when planning a meal based on French cuisine is to
carefully ensure that the chosen wine compliments the meal and
the wine used within it. There is no wine that will not have
a place somewhere in French cuisine.
Italian Cuisine -
has developed through centuries and is one of the oldest,
with roots as far back as the 4th century BC. Italian cuisine
in itself has been heavily influenced by Etruscan, ancient
Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, Jewish and Arab cuisines.
Italian cuisine today was significantly impacted by the
discovery of the New World. Commencing in the 18th century,
potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize became central
to the cuisine. Italian cuisine is regional diverse and
extremely popular worldwide.
and dishes vary by region. Many dishes that were once
regional, however, have proliferated with variations throughout
the country. Cheese and wine are a major part of the cuisine,
with many variations and Denominazione di origine controllata
(DOC) (regulated appellation) laws. Coffee, specifically
espresso, has become important in Italian cuisine.
cuisine on a whole is known for its red sauces and pasta
and its significant use of seafood. Italian cuisine generally
calls out for red, even full-bodied reds, or rose wine
as a accompaniment even though the main ingredient may
well be seafood or white meat. The importance of coffee,
especially espresso coffee, in Italian cuisine also promotes
the pairing of ports, sherries and cocktail liqueurs in
this country's dining style.
Turkish Cuisine - is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine.
The Ottomans fused various culinary traditions of their realm
with influences from Middle Eastern cuisines, along with traditional
Turkic elements from Central Asia (such as yogurt), creating a
vast array of specialities.
cuisine tends to be varied on a regional basis except for common
Turkish specialities such as kebabs that can be found throughout
the country. The Black Sea region's cuisine (northern Turkey)
is based on corn and anchovies. The southeastUrfa, Gaziantep
and Adanais famous for its kebabs, mezes and dough-based
desserts such as baklava, kadayif and künefe. The cuisines
of the Aegean, Marmara and Mediterranean regions display basic
characteristics of Mediterranean cuisine as they are rich in vegetables,
herbs, and fish. Central Anatolia is famous for its pasta specialties,
such as keskek (kashkak), manti (especially from Kayseri) and
cuisine tends to be strong in the use of herbs and spices. They
use a mixture of meats but lamb is a common main ingredient.
Because of the regional nature of their cuisine, the pairing
of wine also is influenced regionally. Turkish cuisine originating
from the Mediterranean region using predominantly seafood calls
for white wines while those from the northern regions pair more
appropriately with red wine. Whatever wine that you choose for
your Turkish styled cuisine, it should be more on the dry side
and can even show significant spice and tannins.
Greek Cuisine - is very strongly a Mediterranean style which
is influenced by the abundant availability of seafood and vegetables.
Greek cuisine has been a strong influence in many country's
cuisines over the centuries just as the Greeks themselves heavily
influenced the development of the wine industry worldwide also.
Greek cuisine is somewhat similar to the Turkish cuisine of
the Mediterranean region and some will argue as to which is
the original. Greek cuisine is strongly based around olive oil,
vegetables and herbs, grains and bread, wine, fish, and various
meats, including poultry, rabbit and pork with olives, cheese,
aubergine, courgette, and yoghurt being very important components.
Greek desserts are typically based on honey and nuts such as
is found in baklava.
it can be said that there is a Greek styled meal to go with
just about any wine, the dominance of seafood, poultry and vegetables
definitely makes white wine a good pairing with Greek cooking.
Just as with Turkish cuisine, you will find that drier whites
work best. Having said that, there are certain Greek dishes
such as Moussaka which is usually based on lamb that pair nicely
with reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Perhaps one of the best
pairings of wine and Greek cuisine comes with dessert. Due to
the heavy reliance on honey and nuts, Greek desserts blend nicely
with many wines from the sweet dessert wines to fortifieds and
also the lighter medium-sweet whites.
- is best
understood as the traditional cooking style and practices associated
with the United Kingdom with certain regional unique specialties
such as haggis in Scotland. British cuisine is notably "straightforward,
not complex, dishes made with quality local ingredients, matched
with simple sauces to accentuate flavor, rather than disguise
it. British cuisine took much from the influences of the invading
Romans and its interaction with the French and other countries
of Europe. However, through all that, like most things British,
it retained its own distinctive style. Some classify that this
is unimaginative, heavy, greasy, unhealthy
and even tasteless. However much of this criticism is inspired
by those people being indoctrinated with the need for rich strong
flavors and extreme sweetness.
think only of traditional items such as the full breakfast,
Christmas dinner, fish and chips and the meat pie when it comes
to British foods, there is so much more to their cuisine. For
instance, there was the early influence of Celtic agriculture
and animal breeding that produced a wide variety of foodstuffs
for indigenous Celts and Britons; Anglo-Saxon England developed
meat and savory herb stewing techniques before the practice
became common in Europe; the Norman conquest introduced exotic
spices into England in the Middle Ages; Britains expansion into
the West Indies and India enabled them to include aspects of
these cuisines and make them their own too. In reality, British
cuisine is a blend of all of the above and while still evolving
through immigration, retains it centuries-old, traditional style
dishes include fish and chips, the Sunday roast, steak and kidney
pie, and bangers and mash. British cuisine has several national
and regional varieties, including English, Scottish and Welsh
cuisine, which each have developed their own regional or local
dishes, many of which are geographically indicated foods such
as Cheshire cheese, the Yorkshire pudding, Arbroath Smokie,
and Welsh cakes.
comes to wine pairing with British Cuisine, it is very much
governed by the more traditional ideas of matching the wine
with the main ingredient. The British themselves tend to favor
a slightly sweet wine rather than the dry varieties. However,
choosing your wine for your traditional British meal should
reflect your personal taste as well as an understanding of traditional
pairing such as reds with red meat, whites with seafood, etc.
You may find it useful to refer to our chart on Wine
Pairings in this regard.
Spanish Cuisine - consists of a variety of dishes, which
stem from differences in geography, culture and climate. It is
heavily influenced by seafood available from the waters that surround
the country, and reflects the country's deep maritime roots. Spain's
extensive history with many cultural influences, especially the
Romans, has led to an array of unique cuisines with literally
thousands of recipes and flavors. It is also renowned for its
health benefits and fresh ingredients.
Among the multitude of recipes that make up the varied cuisine
of Spain, a few can be considered common to all or almost all
of Spain's regions. The most important of these are potato omelette
("tortilla de patata", "tortilla española"
or just "tortilla"), paella, various stews, migas,
sausages (such as embutidos, chorizo, and morcilla), jamón
serrano, and cheeses. There are also many dishes based on beans
(chickpeas, lentils, green beans). Spanish desserts and cakes
tend to be less regionally influenced and include: flan, custard,
rice pudding (arroz con leche), torrijas, churros, and madeleines.
cuisine with its heavy influence of seafood and fresh vegetables,
lends itself to the use of gentler red wines and most white
wines. The Spanish also have a strong history with fortifieds
especially sherry. You will find that Spanish food compliments
fortifieds very well. When choosing a wine to serve with your
Spanish cuisine, be sure that it does not over-power the flavors
of the meal. Remember that traditionally, Spanish cuisine is
seen to be very helahty and this should influence also your
choice of wine.
German Cuisine - has evolved as the centuries like most
country's cuisines. Germanic cuisine shares its style and influence
with countries such as Austria, Switzerland and Belgium. The
German populus are big meat eaters (the average person in Germany
will consume 140lbs of meat each year) so it is not surprising
that their cuisine is strongly embedded with the various meats.
Pork is the most popular meat in this cuisine but they are also
partial to beef, chicken, boar, rabbit, venison, duck, goose,
turkey, lamb and goat. German cuisine will always include a
good array and use of traditional vegetables such as carrots,
turnips, spinach, peas, beans, broccoli and the many types of
many cuisines, German meals are rarely hot and spicy but instead
are usually considered rich, often because of the cooking method
used - meat is usually pot-roasted in a slow cooking style which
enables the flavors of each ingredient to be drawn and blended,
enrichening the whole meal. This cooking will use traditional
herbs like parsley, thyme, laurel, chives, black pepper (used
in small amounts), juniper berries and caraway.
German meals, being based heavily on meat, especially strong red
meats, pair wonderfully with red wine. Because of the use of the
pot-roasting method that results in rich flavors, full-bodied
reds are often a good companion. The use of a sweet white wine
as an aperitif is also a perfect compliment to a German styled
meal as the sweetness will engage the palate and admirably prepare
it for the rich food and wine to follow. German desserts tend
to be quite elaborate and sweet with a regular use of jams and
fruits. Again, sweet dessert wines make for a brilliant accompaniment.
Middle Eastern Cuisine - is the cuisine of a group of countries
that are also sometimes referred to as Western Asia. The cuisine
of this region commonly includes olives and olive oil, pitas,
honey, sesame seeds, sumac, chickpeas, mint and parsley. It was
in the Middle East that wheat was first cultivated, later followed
by barley, pistachios, figs, pomegranates, dates and other well-known
regional ingredients. Fermentation was also discovered here to
leaven bread and make beer. As a crossroads between Europe, Asia
and Africa, this area has long been a hub of food and recipe exchange.
During the Persian Empire (ca. 550330 BC) the foundation
was laid for Middle Eastern food when rice, poultry and fruits
were incorporated into their diets. Figs, dates and nuts were
brought by Arabian warriors to conquered lands, thus incorporating
them also into the cuisine.
it comes to wine and wine pairing, it might be best to look
for something else to accompany a Middle Eastern meal. The traditional
drinks of this region are coffee and arak which is an unsweetened
aniseed flavored, high alcoholic content liquor that is always
served with water and ice. While the modern people of this region
most definitely include wine with some of their meals, the traditional
drinks are still the most commonly used. You may want to follow
their tradition or even consider beer with your next Middle
Eastern styled meal.
Japanese Cuisine - Japanese history dates back many millennia
and so does the evolution of Japanese cuisine. It is not possible
for us to delve into each of the periods of Japanese history
and its influence on the Japanese cuisine here. However, to
put it very simplistically, there was the Jomon period that
was defined by a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, followed by the
Heian period - an agricultural society that brought rice into
the cuisine along with fish, wild fowl and vegetables and desserts
that included nuts and stone fruits. This period also introduced
some of the Buddhist influences from China into the cuisine.
However, they became more notable during the Kamakura period.
During the Kamakura period, there was a very distinct shift
towards vegetarian cuisine.
cuisine today not only refers to the foods themselves but also
to the manner in which they are cooked and served as well as
how they are eaten. Japanese cuisine is based on combining staple
foods typically rice or noodles, with a soup and okazu - dishes
made from fish, meat, vegetable, tofu and the like - to add
flavor to the staple food. These are typically flavored with
dashi, miso, and soy sauce and are usually low in fat and high
in salt. A
standard Japanese meal will generally consist of several different
okazu, a bowl of cooked white Japanese rice, a bowl of soup
and some tsukemono (pickles).
we know, is an island nation surrounded by ocean. It's people
eat primarily seafood. Japanese cuisine is also notable for
its sushi and sashimi.
Noodles are an essential part of Japanese cuisine usually as
an alternative to a rice-based meal. Soba (thin, grayish-brown
noodles containing buckwheat flour) and udon (thick wheat noodles)
are the main traditional noodles and are served hot or cold
with soy-dashi flavorings.
wine of Japan is Saki or rice wine. This really is the best
and probably the only appropriate wine to drink with Japanese
cuisine. If this is not your thing, then perhaps you should
stick to Jasmine or traditional Japanese teas.
Indian Cuisine - When we think of Indian cuisine, probably
the first thing that comes to mind is curry, curry of varying
strengths and mostly using a meat of some kind. However, Indian
cuisine should actually more aptly be known for its vegetarian
style, their magnificent combinations of various spices, herbs
and vegetables Indian cuisine is also very regionalized and
reflects the diverse ethnicity of the country. Additionally,
religious beliefs have had a notable effect on the cuisine.
The west of India, being strongly Islamic faith, has brought
about a cuisine that includes many meat dishes, while the cuisine
of the east of India has largely been influenced by their Hindu
beliefs resulting in only vegetarian dishes. Notwithstanding
these strong religious influences, Indian cuisine has also been
influenced by their interaction with the Mongols and British
during and after their occupation. No discussion of Indian cuisine
would be complete without mentioning the Spice Trade between
India and Europe in the 1800's and the effect this had on the
cuisines at both ends of the trade creating what is referred
to as Europe's Age of Discovery and also the Colonial period
in India history.
When we get to the point of talking about wine pairings with Indian
cuisine, the discussion must first start with which type of Indian
cuisine, east or west. Obviously what we put with a vegetarian
meal is going to be quite different from what we pair with a meat
dish. It is, in fact, worth noting the similarities between Indian
and Middle Eastern foods and in so doing realize that this may
well be another cuisine that does better not paired with wine.
In many ways, Indian cuisine pairs well with fruit juice. With
this in mind, you will find that Indian cuisine actually is complimented
very well by fruit (orchard) wines and grape wines that are on
the sweet side such as Moscato and Gewùrztraminer.
Asian Cuisine - is a collective term that is almost too
broad in many respects. It includes the cuisines of China, Japan
and Korea while almost indirectly including the foods of those
South-East Asian countries, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Viet Nam,
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
As diverse as these countries are, so is their individual cuisine.
However, there are also many common threads between them from
the political aspects of being occupied for a time by the British
who left their mark to their ancestral connections back through
we think of Asian cuisine, we should be careful to ensure that
we are thinking of the various countries food as it would be
prepared and served in that country and definitely not the version
of it that is served in our own country, especially in most
of North America and parts of Europe.
Unfortunately, cultures have tended to modify the real thing
to something that better fits in for them. Asian cuisine is
usually best described as crisp and clean. The flavors are subtle
and the food is geared to a healthier style of cooking using
lots of good vegetables, especially greens, that are enhanced
with gentle sauces. As for a main ingredient, if it is not vegetable,
it is most likely to be chicken or seafood, both of which conform
with the overall sense of Asian cooking.
with Japanese cuisine, wine, except rice wine, does not fit
in all that well. However, because of the preponderance of seafood
and vegetable, you will find that most white wines except the
very sweet ones will pair quite nicely with the majority of
Asian ciosine. We should also remember that floral teas are
often drunk with meals in many parts of Asia and make a wonderful
accompaniment for such delicate cuisine.
Tropical Cuisine - is another collective term used to describe
all those mainly fruit enriched meals that you find in the Caribbean,
Hawaii, the Bahamas, Fijian Islands and similar hot, tropical
countries and regions. Often these regional cuisines have developed
as a result of various infiltrations by invaders, pirates and
colonization and have therefore taken on some of the cuisine
that came with them. However, it all cases, you will also find
that there local produce and individual aboriginal heritage
has left a significant mark on the cuisine. For the most part,
tropical regions are blessed with an abundance of fruits that
are native to their climate, pineapple, mango, paw-paw, banana
and coconut to name just a few. These fruits when combined with
seafood, which tends to be the norm as it too is plentiful,
deliver an incredible culinary experience that is healthy, highly
nutritious and just oozing with flavor while not leaving you
with that over-stuffed feeling that can come from many European
and Western culture meals.
comes to a beverage to enjoy with such cuisine, there is hardly
anything that is more enthusiastically received than a chilled
fruit juice or punch. So if you are looking to really deliver
the goods when you next serve a tropical cuisine meal, try preparing
and serving Sangria with it. As an alternative, you will probably
want to stay with white wines that are on the sweeter side.
South American Cuisine - is without a doubt a product
of its original Inca and Amazonian native cultures and also
its occupation by the peoples of Spain and Portugal centuries
ago. The continent is blessed with many plains that provide
a rich growing environment for crops and grains while its peninsula
shape neatly surrounded by ocean delivers it a wealth of amazingly
diversified seafood. The various regional cuisines of South
America are based primarily on seafood due to its variety and
it being so plentiful. However, lamb and venison which are widely
produced are common too. Alpaca and Llama meat are also consumed.
South American cuisine tends to follow the style of the nations
of the Conquistadors but with a regional influence. The more
northern regions that near the Equator will include tropical
fruits while the more southern will enjoy traditional vegetables.
Their foods are typically quite spicy and hot but are definitely
healthy and lower in fat content than their European counterparts.
of the great things about South American food is its ability
to be enjoyed with a wide variety of wine. As with many European
cuisines, choose your wine with the main ingredient in mind
and take particular note of the spiciness of the particular
dish. Also remember the fruit content for those meals prepared
in the style of the northern part of the continent.
US Cuisine - Some of you will probably be offended by
the image that is portrayed here representing American cuisine.
It is not intended to offend but rather to be factual. The United
States is a young nation that has developed around an immigrant
population with some small amount of influence from its native
American Indians. Meals prepared in the United States are a
reflection of this immigrant growth. Perhaps the main contribution
of the native population has been the consumption of corn. While
the United States has most definitely evolved its immigrant
population into a race that is decidedly American, it has not
developed a real cuisine of its own with the exception of fast
food. The US culture is one of fast pace with a focus on the
virtues of wealth rather than health of body or mind. This focus
has undoubtedly strongly influenced and contributed to the development
and growth of the fast food industry as epitomized by McDonald's,
Kentucky Fried, Burger King and Starbucks as well as the proliferation
of restaurant chains that satisfy the average Americans need
to be sure that wherever they go they can be sure to get the
same product of the same quality at the same price, even if
it really isn't that great tasting or that good for you.
we come to another issue, what wine do you pair with this cuisine.
Well, frankly, it really becomes a matter of pairing what you
like with it but don't waste money on expensive wine to consume
with this food. Have what appeals to you and what you think
will is the best choice. Literally, even the least expensive
wine will taste fine with most of the food offered at these
chains and there is no doubt that a beer will taste best with
Australian Cuisine - well there is an oxymoron for you.
Australia suffers like the United States in being a very young
nation. However, it suffers in two other ways also. Firstly,
Australians have no concept of heritage and the retention of
it and secondly, they not only produce more sheep than any other
country, save maybe New Zealand, but they also follow the United
States in almost everything like sheep or a dog on a leash.
This Australian trend very much extends to food as much as it
does anything else. Sure, you will hear people talk about the
great Aussie barbeque but realistically, you are more likely
to see them run down to McDonalds, PizzaHut, KFC or one of the
numerous American created fast food chains that now permeate
the landscape than frequent the traditional restaurants and
eateries on which the country was born.
having said that, there are a few things that are Australian
if you can find or re-create them. Damper ( a leaven outback
style bread) and Vegemite (a nutritious breakfast and sandwich
spread) are two of these and they go great together with lashings
of butter spread on the hot damper first. As for cuisine, typical
traditional Australian fare is that of its colonizers, the British
and includes fish and chips, meat pies, sausage rolls, roast
dinners, and so on. Australians are traditional hearty red meat
eaters too whether it is on from the barbeque, the oven, fry
pan or cooked on a stick over an open fire. Lamb and beef are
the two most popular. Chicken and seafood are also significant
in this culture especially in summer with salad and garden greens.
But don't be fooled into thinking that they all "throw
the shrimp on the barbie"; this was a tourist gimmick perpetrated
by Paul Hogan and the government at the time. Nonetheless, if
you do want to create a real Aussie barbeque, then you had best
be prepared to include sliced pineapple, potato, tomato, onion
along with your steak, chicken breast, beef and pork sausages,
bananas and if you must prawns, King or Tiger Prawns of around
is blessed with a huge wine industry and most will take advantage
of that. However, the Australian wine drinker is not as sophisticated
as his European counterpart and will tend to enjoy almost anything
with anything. For best results when dining with Australian
cuisine, follow the generally accepted guidelines for the pairing
of foods and wines.