Umami, a term foodies use to describe a fifth kind of taste when it
comes to food, can be tricky to pair with wine. Basically, umami is
that meaty, savory or ripe taste/texture in the mouth. It can come
from ripe, fermented, cured or preserved foods. The chemistry behind
umami is also why MSG makes foods taste better.
If something tastes good in your mouth, savory, but it is not sweet,
that flavor is likely to be umami-based. Umami foods are best paired
with a low tannin wine, or a wine with some bottle age.
Umami is why Pinot Noir is a better pairing with Salmon than white
wines can be.
I like to think of it as the 'wrinkle factor.' A more seasoned, 'ripe'
or aged food has complexity and the pleasing flavor of maturity. Match
an umami food with an umami-like wine - mature and bottle aged, the
wine should have a complexity to match.
Silverado Vineyards has an excellent webpage that talks more about the
subject here -
Another great resource is on the wine lover's page here -
Read to the bottom of the article for an eye opening suggested pairing
for American beef!
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