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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 December 2, 2019

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

    In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

    These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

    1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

    Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

    But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

    Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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    2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

    You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

    The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

    3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

    If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

    Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

    If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

    4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

    Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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    To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

    In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

    5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

    We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

    If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

    Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

    “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

    6. Give for the Joy of Giving

    When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

    One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

    So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

    7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

    Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

    Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

    When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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    So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

    9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

    Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

    It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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    Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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