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Food and wine pairings: Coastal inspiration

Marie Claire recently published a popular feature geared at twenty-somethings about wine and cheese combos that sing when matched together. While it is a well-known fact that wine and cheese are a culinary match made in heaven, there are many lesser known food and wine pairings that beg for experimentation by the adventurous foodie, and will add a whole new sensory dimension to your tasting experience.

Conventional food and wine pairing wisdom tells us that seafood should generally be paired with white wines. You don't have to limit yourself to Sauvignon Blanc with linefish and sparkling wine with shellfish though.  More fragrant white wines goes excellently with sushi and tempura prawns. The delicate aromas compliments the flavours of the sushi, and has a complexity that lifts the wine and dish when paired together.

Ever thought to give rosé a go with seafood paella instead of a dry white? Rosé with its floral fruitiness tends to go well with a variety of seafood and veggies, as well as fragrant rice like Arborio or basmati and exotic saffron spice.

If you are a red wine lover, don't despair – there's room for red wine in your repertoire of seafood favourites! Light, fruit-driven reds like Beaujolais or Gamay Noir, or even Pinot Noir are capable partners for oysters and also slightly sweeter fish like salmon and even scallops. The light, fruity mouthfeel of the Pinot complements the light, yet fragrant flavour of the fish. An important aspect of Pinot Noir is also the wine's prominent acidity which gives it structure, and acidity naturally brings out the best in seafood.

A general guideline for food and wine pairing is that the one shouldn't overpower the other. Instead, the depth, flavour and intensity of the wine should match the dish, and vice versa. There are exceptions though. For instance, you don't want a buttery, big-bodied Chardonnay to accompany a decadent, creamy seafood dish – it will just be too much! Instead choose a crisp white wine that can cut through the richness and refresh your palate.

The point to remember is that there is isn't a rule that applies to all when it comes to food and wine matching. It is a subjective experience and not an exact science, and personal preference plays a big role. The best advice therefore is to experiment as widely as possible, use your common sense, and discover for yourself which food and wine combinations really tickle your tastebuds.