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

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 July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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