There is an art to food pairings; part of the experience of going out to a nice restaurant is to let experts take the reign and guide you through the meal. But you don’t have to be a chef or a sommelier to find flavors that go well together. Since summer is the season for salads, we thought it’d be fun to dig into a familiar (but highly underrated) salad dressing component and use it to highlight the intricacies of food pairings: balsamic vinegar.
We’ve put together some tips that will allow you experiment with new flavor combinations with confidence. So, read up, and get ready to impress your friends at your next dinner party with your knowledge of pairings.
Taste Bud Basics
The first thing to know about pairing is that flavors can either complement or contrast each other. Think of putting a meal together the way you would think about painting – a color can either complement another or throw it into relief.
You may be more familiar with the concept of pairing cheese and wine. But you should think of every dish as a blank canvas. Think of classic combinations like tomato soup and grilled cheese (complement), or even peanut butter and jelly (contrast)! They’re classic because they hold to the rules of food science. There are five basic flavor components of food – fat, acid, salty, sweet, and bitter. Along with fat, these are the things to balance when it comes to pairing flavors together as you cook.
Use mild balsamic vinegars to complement subtle dishes, and stronger ones for hearty foods that are already bold in flavor. Contrasting flavors gives a dish more complexity; use strong vinegars with mild ingredients and softer ones to contrast intense flavors.
When pairing food with wine, consider the elements of wine: sugar, acid, fruit, tannin and alcohol. Again, you can choose to either match similar flavors, or bring together different flavors for more depth. Like wine, balsamic vinegars are made from either white grapes or red grapes so a lot of the ideas behind pairing wine and food hold true for vinegars.
Whether you like to savor a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or you always choose Chardonnay, there are a variety of white balsamic vinegars to try. If you’re more of a red wine drinker, we have a range of red balsamic vinegars that may be more your style. The following guidelines will help you plan your dinner menu so you can go to the supermarket and the wine store prepared.
Tried and True Combos
- Champagne calls for contrast. Even dry sparkling wine has a touch of sweetness, so pair it with something salty to make every sip extra refreshing. Classics combos are bubbles with briny oysters and soft cheeses, but foods like ramen and even popcorn are perfect! Blue cheese stuffed mushrooms drizzled with our original white balsamic vinegar practically beg to be paired with a glass of bubbles.
- Our white balsamic vinegar pairs with any delicate dish. For Pinot Grigio fans, Texas Olive Ranch White Balsamic is light, with just a hint of sweetness. Toss together with our infused olive oils for any simple salad or pair with equally light seafood dishes.
- Most Chardonnay drinkers want an oaky, buttery Chardonnay. If that rings true, opt for complementing your glass of wine with a fatty fish like salmon, or any seafood in a rich, creamy sauce. A glass of Chard would go great with our Texas Olive Oil Poached Salmon and Peach Balsamic Vinegar Texas Caviar Salad
- Speaking of our Peach Balsamic Vinegar, it’s sweet and slightly tangy, much like a California Sauvignon Blanc. Try both with cheese, fruit, or ice cream for complementary pairings.
- Sauvignon Blanc also goes well with tart dressings and sauces, so pair it with a salad dressed in our Rio Grande Orange Infused White Balsamic Vinegar.
- Riesling and Thai food is a popular pairing that never gets old. Any spicy food works best with wines that are sweeter on the palate to tame the heat.
- Grüners pair well with dishes that are herbal and fresh; think zucchini noodles or lamb with labneh. Make your own labneh with our Cucumber Melon Balsamic Vinegar for an irresistible combination.
- Dry rosés work well with rich, cheesy dishes. In fact, no cheese exists that doesn’t go well with rosé, because of the fruit characteristics it borrows from red wine and the acidity it has from white wine. Try our Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar on a beet and goat cheese salad with pistachios for a nice blend of tartness and sweetness.
- The lightest of reds, Pinot Noir pairs well with dishes that have earthy flavors. It will drink well with any dish featuring mushrooms or truffles.
- If you like Chianti (who doesn’t?), go with classic flavor combinations like a Caprese salad. Drizzle it with our Red Balsamic Vinegar and drizzle some in olive oil for dipping bread, too!
- Cab drinkers tend to be carnivores. The tannins in Cabernet Sauvignons and wines from Bordeaux complement juicy red meats like steak or pork chops.
- Cabernet Francs have a green, herbaceous taste to them. Our Jalapeño Lime Balsamic Vinegar would pair well with the common jalapeño note in some cab francs.
- If you like bold, fruity wines like Malbec or Australian Shiraz, they work best with foods that can match their intensity, like barbecue. Use our Figalicious Fig Infused Red Balsamic Vinegar to make a sweet-spicy chicken drumsticks glaze.
- Heavily seasoned dishes – think cumin, lots of pepper, or harissa – need to be paired with red wines that throw a lot of spicy notes. Syrah from Washington state is always a good choice.
10% Off Balsamic Vinegar Sale!
We’re offering 10% off all of our balsamic vinegars so you can experiment with pairings and find the perfect balsamic vinegar to complement your favorite bottle! It’s the perfect time to try out vinegars you haven’t tasted yet, or to get a discount off of your favorites. Shop now and enter VINEGAR at checkout for 10% all red and white balsamic vinegar.