Erin Doman on February 4, 2016 1 Comment Drinking wine is one of the simple pleasures of life that most people enjoy. With the many different flavors that wine has to offer, you would be hard pressed to find someone who does not appreciate at least a couple varieties. Although there are many times when you want to enjoy a wine on its own, there is something special and pleasurable about creating the perfect food and wine pairing. Unfortunately, there are also some foods that are rather difficult to pair with wine, some of which you might have unexpectedly and unluckily happened upon on your own. Read on to find out the reason behind some wine pairings that do not work. 1. Overwhelming Sweetness Artichokes stand alone in being strikingly awful to pair with wine. It can be done if you’re open to white wine, but red wine and artichokes just do not seem to get along. Artichokes naturally contain an acid called cynarin. This acid inhibits your ability to taste sweetness properly, so whatever you are eating alongside of your artichokes will taste different. When paired with artichokes, wine can taste cloyingly sweet. So, if you are looking to avoid a headache-inducing rush of sweetness, skip the artichokes with your sweet wines. There is a way around this effect. If you are smart about it, you can appropriately pair a dry wine with artichokes. Dry wines are great, but certain wines could stand to be a little sweeter. Pairing, say, a dry Champagne with artichokes can strike a superb balance. 2. Unexpected Sourness Chocolate is another pleasure that is widely appreciated by the masses. Unfortunately, chocolate and wine can be very difficult to pair if you pick just any wine. Chocolate is known for its sweet and fatty taste, which certainly contributes to its popularity. However, these are the qualities that make it so very hard to serve with a wine counterpart. Drinking a dry red wine after the delectable sweetness of chocolate is sure to leave a harsh and sour flavor on your tongue. Instead of a dry wine, opt for a sweet one such as a dessert wine. Sweet sparkling wines, such as a Moscato D’Asti from Italy, would make a wonderful choice, as they would help to maintain the sweetness in your mouth, instead of spoiling it. 3. Unpalatable Metallic Flavors The idea of raw fish turns some people off, but for those willing to step out of their comfort zone, sushi can become a much-enjoyed food. However, it was noticed that eating sushi, or any seafood, with red wine often resulted in an unpleasant dining experience. To suss out the underlying cause of this common effect, researchers in Japan conducted taste tests, pairing different wines with seafood. It was discovered that the higher concentration of iron a wine possessed, the more likely it was to ruin the taste of the seafood. This phenomenon is due to an unsaturated fatty acid that breaks down when it comes into contact with iron, leaving a fishy, metallic taste behind in the mouth. Not all red wines are high enough in iron to cause this effect, but if you want to play it safe, go for a dry white wine, which is sure to be low in iron. 4. Sulfuric Salads It can be an unpleasant experience to sit down to enjoy a salad and a glass of wine only to be confronted with overwhelming taste of sulfur on your palate. Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts present a problem when you are trying to find a suitable wine to pair with them. They contain an organosulfur compound which imitates the taste of a common wine fault. When this compound is eaten alongside wine, the flavor of the food is translated into the flavor of the wine, creating an offensive taste. A white wine with a strong herbaceous flavor would work well to balance out the sulfur taste. Asparagus: Asparagus is another vegetable that can taste overly sulfuric when paired with certain wines. Although the same problem will be encountered when pairing asparagus with wine, there is the extra added issue of the excessive amount of chlorophyll in the vegetable. This quality rules out most wines that would work fine with Brussels sprouts. For asparagus, try a dry Sherry to help accentuate the vegetable with a nutty flavor. Similar Foods to Avoid: Broccoli Garlic Cauliflower Some leafy greens 5. Bitterness and Spice There are many things that can go wrong when combining spicy food with wine. Not only can the taste of a strong wine paired with the powerful punch of spice completely overwhelm your taste buds, but it can actually alter the taste of the wine altogether. If you truly love wine, you know how important it is to fully taste and experience the flavors in your glass of wine in order to appreciate it. This is why wine and spicy food just do not mix. More specifically, if you pair spicy food with a wine high in tannins, the wine will come out tasting very bitter. Wines with a lot of oak should also be avoided, as spice can amplify the oaky flavor of wine past the point of enjoyable. Pairing spicy food with a wine high in alcohol content will also increase the alcohol flavor to a negative degree. With so many ways to ruin wine with spicy food, finding a complementary pairing can seem impossible. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to bring out the best in both wine and spicy food. Considering a lot of available American red wines are oaky, tannic, and high in alcohol, it might be best to steer clear of them unless you know the wine you are looking at well. Your best bet would be to go for an off-dry, fruity white wine. The sweetness in the wine will help temper the heat, while not overpowering the complex flavors of the food. 6. Competing Food and Wine Flavors One of the biggest mistakes you can make when putting together a food and wine pairing is coupling two powerful tastes together. When you have a pungent food and a pungent wine paired together, they tend to compete as the dominate taste. This can either overwhelm or, in some cases, actually underwhelm your palate. The trick is to seek flavors that complement each other, not compete with each other. Cheese: There are certain food and wine pairings that are undeniable. Generally, cheese and wine are thought to complement each other very well. However, blue cheeses, such as Gorgonzola and Roquefort, are a bit more difficult to work with when it comes to finding appropriate wine pairings. This is because the flavor of the cheese is very strong and overpowers many of the wines one might ordinarily drink with cheese. The solution to this problem is to pair the cheese with a wine that is as sweet as the cheese is pungent. These two flavors together should balance each other out, and accent the positive qualities of both the wine and cheese. Acid: Acid can be an important component to both food and wine. In wine, acid adds freshness the same way a squirt of lemon adds freshness to a fresh fillet of fish. The acidity in wine and food can complement each other nicely if it is well-balanced. However, beware of foods such as citrus, tomatoes, and pickled edibles, as they tend to be very high in acid. This becomes a problem when the food in question is higher in acidity than the wine, as it can make the wine taste flat. How to Pair Food and Wine Finding the right food and wine pairings can seem a little intimidating, especially if you have only just begun to venture into the world of wine. The purpose of pairing certain foods with certain wines is to bring out the best in both by balancing the flavors properly. Therefore, keep in mind that just because you love a particular food and a particular wine does not mean that they will go well together. Exploring the pairings of food and wine is an exciting adventure, sure to lead to some amazing combinations that will dazzle your taste buds. However, if you make some mistakes along the way, don’t let it get you down. Even the most knowledgeable of wine connoisseurs had to start somewhere, and when you find those food and wine matches made in heaven, every step along the way to that discovery will be well worth it.