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Wine Hack: 7 Food and Wine Pairing Tips to Take You from Novice to Pro

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Wine Hack: 7 Food and Wine Pairing Tips to Take You from Novice to Pro

white wine glass in bistro

    Do you find yourself intimidated when it comes to ordering wine?

    I remember when I was first getting into wine, the whole food and wine pairing thing used to make me nervous. What if I got it wrong?

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    But after a few misspent years working as a wine maker and many pleasurable years as a wine lover, I’ve come to realize there’s nothing to be afraid of.

    I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a food and wine pairing disaster. It’s one of those things that seems scary but is actually pretty easy to get right.

    So here are 7 tips to give you the confidence to think of yourself as a food and wine pairing pro.

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    1. Remember there are no rules.

    This may sound a little counter-intuitive but there are no rules that work for every situation and every person. So relax and don’t waste your time worrying about getting it wrong. At the end of the day, as long as you and your guests are enjoying yourselves then your food and wine matching has been a success, regardless of what the experts would have us believe.

    2. The food and wine must both taste great on their own.

    While duck and pinot noir have been known to make a little magic on the taste buds when the two are united, it’s not necessarily always the case. A watery, insipid, cheap pinot is still going to taste sad and bland even if it is teamed with the most succulent duck dish. And the same goes for the food. If it doesn’t taste good on its own, it’s not going to magically improve alongside even the most wonderful wine.

    3. Weight is important.

    Lighter, more delicately flavored food generally works best with lighter style wines. Heavy, tannic reds tend to be best hooked up with more robust meaty dishes. But of course, there will always be times when a light wine could team marvelously with a heavy rich dish.

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    4. Wine and food can contrast one another.

    Contrast is something that I personally love to play with. For example, using a light, acidic wine like a dry Riesling to cut through the oiliness of fried fish and chips is always a winner.

    5. Wine and food can compliment each other.

    Sometimes finding flavor similarities can result in a harmonious food and wine pairing experience. For example, matching the earthiness of mushrooms in a mushroom risotto can work a treat with a funky, earthy Pinot Noir. Or a fresh, minty Cabernet Sauvignon to compliment your classic roast lamb with mint sauce can be a flavor explosion.

    6. Trust your instincts.

    Like most things in life, if it feels like it isn’t going to work, then you’re probably on the right track. Of course it isn’t the end of the world if the food and wine are more at the divorce end of the relationship spectrum. You’ll still be able to enjoy each on their own. A sip of palate cleansing water in between mouthfuls can make all the difference.

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    7. Don’t be afraid to ask the experts.

    Most people who love their wine, are always happy to help out. So have a chat to the guy in your local wine shop or if you’re eating out, ask to talk to the wine waiter or somellier. It’s their job to help guide your wine decisions and if they’re good at their job they won’t be just trying to sell you the most expensive bottle on the list.

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2022

    10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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    10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

    A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

    To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

    1. Camping

    A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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    2. Staycation

    You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

    3. Island Getaway

    People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

    4. Fancy Resort

    Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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    5. Road Trip

    The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

    6. Charter a Boat

    If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

    7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

    If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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    8. Themed Retreats

    There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

    9. Working Honeymoon

    Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

    10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

    Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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    Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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