Generally, the qualities of your individual dishes will have a predominant taste and will fall into one of the five main taste categories: sour, salty, bitter, sweet, and umami. You may find that some ingredients have qualities from more than one category (mustard, for instance, can be sour and salty). Occasionally you can find a synergy between two categories that you wouldn’t think might go together (a great example is salted taffy).
Here are a few ingredients from each category to illustrate the four categories:
vinegar, dry wine, sour cream, yogurt, tamarind, mustard, pickles, lemon juice, lemongrass, mustard
Great butter/beurre blanc sauce:
ACADÉMIE Wine Blend #2 + lemon juice + butter + salt. Butter balances out the sourness of the sauce and adds volume and body.
fish sauce, soy sauce, mustard, capers, olives, anchovies, bacon, prosciutto, aged cheeses
Awesome teriyaki sauce:
ACADÉMIE Wine Blend #3 + soy sauce + garlic. Saltiness of the soy sauce is balanced by savory components of reduced wine and garlic.
cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, grapefruit, coffee, oaked wine, watercress, radicchio, endive, mustard greens, black pepper, walnuts, dark chocolate
Excellent reduction sauce for chicken breast:
ACADÉMIE Wine Blend #1 + thyme + butter. Earthiness of thyme is balanced by bitter oak and fruit components of the wine. Butter adds volume and melds flavors together.
sugar, chocolate, ketchup, roasted bell peppers, caramelized onions, molasses, melon, fruit juice, sweet wine, honey
Great fish or pork marinade:
ACADÉMIE Wine Blend #4 + cane sugar + coriander + ginger + dill weed. Sweetness of wine/sugar balanced by fruited aromatics and fresh summer spices.
portabello, shiitake, porcini, and morel mushrooms, corn, smoked or cured fish, shellfish, soy sauce, miso
Tasty mushroom finishing sauce:
ACADÉMIE Wine Blend #3 + brown sugar + paprika + portabello mushrooms. Sticky sweet components balanced by umami from mushrooms.
By keeping in mind like flavors, you can craft recipes (or build upon existing recipes) in a harmonious way.
One of the interesting things about cooking with wine is that it can easily support and add something special to ingredients in each of these different categories. Experiment. Have fun. Enjoy the fruits of your labor with your loved ones!
Cooking Light, March 2008