Tips To Getting Your Whisky-Food Pairing Right

The art of whisky-food pairing is a growing trend worldwide as more and more people switch to drinking high-end Scotch

The art of pairing wine with food has, over the years, acquired its own vocabulary and traditions --- white wine with fish, red wine with meat, etc. Whisky is moving in the same direction as more and more people take to Single Malts and high-end blended whiskies. Aficionados are discovering newer ways to enjoy their tipple, and there are now as many food and whisky pairing ideas as there are chefs and experts. Connoisseurs will tell you that pairing whisky with certain kinds of food makes for a delectable experience. High-end Scotch and Single Malt, they say, can enhance flavours and aroma in certain kind of cuisines.

The ideal way to go about the whisky-food pairing exercise is to work on the twin criteria of complementary and contrasting flavours. The result is to seek a certain balance and harmony.  Some of the rules of wine-food pairing do not work with whisky because the latter contains much more alcohol --- wine has 12 to 15 %  ABV (alcohol by volume) as against whisky’s 40 to 45 %.

Here are some tips to remember when pairing whiskies with food.

Keep it simple

Keeping it simple is the way to go when it comes to whisky and food pairings. The idea is to create a gastronomic synergy between the taste and aroma of the alcohol and the flavours of the cuisine. The goal is not just to discover what goes well with what, but to also find a pairing that brings out something new in each other; be it the food or the whisky. One key take away, according to experts, is to keep your menu simple and light if you are organising a whisky pairing evening. That way one would be able to appreciate both the alcohol and the cuisine.

Spice isn’t always nice

When drinking a good whisky with food avoid anything that is too spicy, has too much garlic in it or has any bitter flavours. They prevent you from enjoying the layered taste that your drink has to offer. This would mean that many of the spice-rich Indian dishes will not go well with the good whisky. So it is best that you don’t pair them. And if you do want to serve whisky with food, make sure that the food is mild on spice and garlic.

Tips To Getting Your Whisky Food Pairing Right

Don’t be afraid of diluting your strong whisky

Whisky connoisseurs and purists would cringe at the idea of pouring water into whisky. A few drops, they say, will open up the flavours and aroma, but anything beyond that is a strict `no’. Our view is that it is ok to add water to adjust the strength of the whisky to match and compliment the taste and flavour of the food. But be measured in the amount of water you pour because too much of it will kill the joy of the entire food pairing exercise.

One rule of wine-food pairing that works with whisky as well

Lighter and medium bodied whiskies are best matched with lighter tasting food like fish, sushi, etc., while heavier and complex tasting whiskies like peaty Single Malts are best matched with red meat. Of course, if you are serving fish that is heavily salted or spiced, then the heavier whiskies tend to work better.  If you are serving more than one whisky at your dinner, then it is better to start with the lighter whisky first and progressively move on to the heavier ones as the meal progresses.

Cheese and whisky

Cheese and whisky make for a great combination; some say it is even better than the more classic wine and cheese. Almost all varieties of cheese pair well Scotch. Among the better-known ones, Gouda and Cheddar go well with a full bodied Single Malt that has a hint of fruitiness. Blue cheese Roquefort will go well with heavy whiskies, while crunchy Parmesan should be matched with a light whisky and Camembert with a peaty Single Malt.

Chocolates and whisky

Chocolates go very well with whisky, and the trick here is to work with contrasting tastes. If the chocolate is dark and heavy, it works very well with a light whisky, while a white chocolate which is milky and creamy will go well with a strong whisky or a peaty Single Malt.

You don't need a culinary degree to be a great host to your guests. Follow these tips to experience an enjoyable evening.

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