For me, Valentine’s Day is overrun with roses, chocolate and overcrowded restaurants. As a wine lover and foodie, I’m not going to remember a dozen red roses in 10 years, but I will remember an “experience.”








Port and food pairing – Portugal

Harmony defined

Food can be great on its own, just like wine can. Did you know they can taste better together? When food and wine are harmoniously matched, this is when the magic happens! Harmony refers to an enhanced experience when the food and wine are happier together than on their own.


Creating harmony

Food and wine pairing is an intimidating task and requires some training and experience. Taste buds and sensitivities add another layer of complexity making everyone’s experience with a pairing unique. However, after understanding some basic principles, pairing can be more approachable and a fun experiment.




Pairing basics


There are six primary tastes that affect food and wine pairings:

  1. Sweet
  2. Acid
  3. Salt
  4. Fat
  5. Piquante (Spice)
  6. Bitter




The First Step

Identify which of the six primary tastes are showcased in the dish. Then narrow down what type of wine will complement the food flavor profile.



Consider the following:

              • Acidity, tannin, sweetness, and flavor components of the wine.
              • Local food of the wine’s origin. This will always steer you in the right direction.


A few examples:

              • The acidity in sparkling wines cut the fat in cheese like a triple-cream.
              • An off-dry Riesling will cool down spicy flavors in dishes like Szechuan Shrimp.
              • The tannins in a Nebbiolo play well with prime rib or braised short ribs, while the acidity will cut the fat in a risotto.






Playing with harmony

Exploring the relationship between food and wine can give mixed results. You’ll remember the great and terrible, everything in between will be forgotten.  It’s a learning process. Train your palate through experiences to identify harmonious relationships.



Create an experience

Want a low key, but memorable evening at home this Valentine’s Day?


                  1. Prepare a board of nibbles mixing flavors and textures.
                  2. Pick up 3-4 bottles of wines varying in style, color and grape varietals.
                  3. Explore combinations of food and wine searching for harmonious pairings.
                  4. Have fun!




Since this an experiment, pick up ingredients that move or interest you. Include cheese, meat, fruit, nuts, bread/crackers, and something sweet.








Overwhelmed with the idea of creating an experience of your own?

Pop a Cork and Share the Love is a unique food and wine experience taking place on Feb 14 at Brick Row in downtown Cornelius. It will start with formal instruction around food and wine pairing principles, followed by a guided journey through 5 paired courses by yours truly. Reservations available on Eventbrite through February 9.






Stephanie Roberts, WSET® Certified, is passionate about educating people about wine and all its complexities. She believes that through education comes enlightenment and approachability—elevating the wine and food experience. Stephanie is the founder of Corks & Boards, offering unique and tailored wine experiences, and topic driven tastings/education. Furthermore, she has developed a wine education series that she will launch February 2020. She currently offers wine experiences and education to the Lake Norman community at Brick Row and the Charlotte community at Camp North End.





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