The Food Court: Chewing the fat over good red wine

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What would you say if someone told you that one of the best things you could eat with a nice glass of certain red wines would be a fatty burger?

It wouldn’t hurt to try it with filet mignon, either, but there is something special about that burger that will probably surprise you.

According to a report in ACS’ journal Langmuir, lipids (fats) in certain foods match up well with wines high in tannins (polyphenols, or antioxidants) to produce a smooth-tasting beverage. Such wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Montepulciano, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Nebbiolo, all reds.

This interaction is critical to the taste of the wine because the fats interfere with the tannins’ ability to mix with saliva and create a bitter taste, says Julie Géan, Ph.D., who is the study team leader. So any foods with a significant amount of lipids would work well with these high-tannin red wines. Studies have shown that tannins from red grape seeds and skins are known to play an important part in taste since they contribute to red wine astringency, a dry and rough sensation in the mouth.

“Based on our study, we can assume that fats present in meat, fish and cheese could interact with tannins when you drink wine,” said Géan, who is with Université Bordeaux, Pessac, France.

This study is unique because of its close examination of interactions between the tannins and the lipids and their effect on the wine taste and “feel,” she said. Researchers had studied astringency and the tannin-saliva interaction widely, but little was known about interactions between tannins and lipids and their implications for tasting wine. In addition, the influence of food on the flavor and dryness of wine is well known by consumers, but has not been examined at the molecular level, according to Géan.

That is, we know that cheese goes well with a nice Petite Sirah, but we just haven’t known why –– until this study. So with what you now know, how about trying a glass of red with a double cheeseburger?

Red Wine Tannins Fluidify and Precipitate Lipid Liposomes and Bicelles. A Role for Lipids in Wine Tasting?


Click here for the abstract.

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