For some, food and wine pairing are art, for others, a science, and for me, a question of our preferences.
I have reviewed several articles on the topic already. However, the most popular one was about the sommelier journey to develop the skills of choosing an appropriate wine pairing with the meal their guests chose at their establishment .
We learned how these sommeliers defined an excellent pairing, how a simple food was sometimes needed to highlight a complex wine, and how building the right social network helps sommeliers learn from their peers the tricks of the trade, or develop their own.
What makes a good wine pairing work was, however, not clear.
This is what this new research attempts to elucidate for us.
Researchers from UC Davis (USA) and the University of Adelaide (Australia) collaborated on a project  with two main questions in mind:
The researchers went through a rigorous protocol to select three dishes and two wines.
The selected food items created a full meal,
The two wines were Australian Shiraz, one produced in a cool-climate region (Canberra District) and one from a warmer area (McLaren Vale).
The researchers invited 108 participants to evaluate the food items first, then the wines, and the six pairings. Each time, people provided the following information:
When evaluating the wine pairing, participants indicated how appropriate they thought the pairing was, and how balanced it was. The balance score indicated if the wine flavors or the food flavors were dominant, or if the flavors were balanced.
People liked the Braised beef entree paired with the McLaren Vale wine the most, followed by the same entree paired with the Canberra wine, and then the Mousse paired with the McLaren Vale wine. They less enjoyed the pasta-wine pairings.
Interestingly, the liking expressed for the food item alone tended to be higher than the liking score for the food paired with any wines.
The participants' food and wine pairings were more liked when the combination was slightly unbalanced in favor of the wine flavor dominating the pair.
You may have learned that the food and wine needed to be equivalent in overall flavor intensity to make a good pairing. Not in this case.
Actually, that was also one conclusion of an article I shared about chocolate and wine pairing .
In this particular study, the researchers concluded that people's liking for a beverage conditioned the love of this beverage-chocolate pairing. They explained it as such: "beverage features take a greater supporting role than food in the formulation of consumer pair liking judgment."
Another interesting finding was that the more the wine pairing was deemed appropriate, the more people liked the pairing (of course). The more they perceived the flavor and mouthfeel complex. The latter means that the food and wine combinations developed many different notes, which made the experience rich and memorable.
Published July 16, 2020
 Marcell Kustos, Hildegarde Heymann, David W. Jeffery, Steve Goodman, Susan E.P. Bastian, Intertwined: What makes food and wine pairings appropriate?, Food Research International,Volume 136, 2020, 109463.