A Match Made At Mealtime: Tips on Food & Drink Pairing

There is no better way to take a dish from excellent to outstanding than to add the right drink. Traditionally, wine and food pairings have been the topic of much discussion but with the explosion of craft cocktails and breweries in recent years, pairing liquor and beer with food is gaining popularity. Of course, an individual’s taste will dictate which pairings are right for them. However, some basic knowledge and pairing tips can elevate the flavor of future meals.

Tip #1: Complement & Contrast

Pairing choices can be a combination of contrasting and mirroring to bring out the best in the food and drink. Contrasting consists of picking drinks with characteristics that contrast the flavors in the food. Of course, too much contrast could make one element overpower the other. But a little bit of contrast can bring out good things in both. Another method called mirroring is to choose a drink that offers continuity with the food, complementing similar characteristics and helping them shine. For example, pairing barbecue with bourbon – the smoky flavor of the meat goes well with the smoky, woody flavor of the spirit.

Tip #2: Pay Attention to Strength & Acidity

Strength and acidity are both key factors when deciding how to pair food and drinks. Ideally, the level of acid in both the meal and the drink are comparable. Neither one should overpower the other. Acidity can contrast richness in food, like a squeeze from a lemon wedge can help a plate of fried shrimp. When it comes to beer, the common practice is to match the strength of a dish with the strength of a beer. However, you still want to have some contrast in both elements. For example, a beer with some bitterness will nicely offset a sweet dish.

Tip #3: Consider Body

When pairing food and cocktails or nonalcoholic beverages, not only flavor should be taken into consideration, but also to mouthfeel. Apple juice has a whole different body than tomato juice, which has a whole different one than seltzer. And unless the plan is a liquid dinner, full-bodied cocktails should be reserved for the end of the meal.

While food and beverage pairings can be highly personal, some foods lend themselves well to particular drinks. Think of a good pairing as being similar to what makes a good relationship: Ideal companions may indeed have commonalities, but opposites attract. Each offers a unique “flavor” that compliments their mate, despite any differences.

Visit West Town Tap of Peoria, IL today and start matchmaking at mealtime! Our full ‘gastropub’-style menu features unique appetizers, sandwiches, salads, larger plates, and breakfast – not one to skipped, served 6am to 2pm daily. For more information on food and drink specials, live music, and events, call (309) 839-0576.