You can always find perfect balance
The most important thing to remember when balancing wine with food is to find the food’s dominant component, then play off it. Start by looking at the alcohol level of your Riesling in order to determine its weight (how the texture of the wine feels on your mouth).
The lower the alcohol, the higher the sugar, which makes the wine weightier in texture, which is enough to stand up to a heavier dish. It sounds a little contradictory, doesn’t it? We’ve been going on and on about how light and easily pairable Riesling is, and here we are talking about how it’s weighty enough to hold its own against a heavy dish. But the key here is to keep in mind that the Riesling with the highest alcohol content is still going to have a much lower ABV than another type of wine, just like a lower alcohol content Riesling will be weighty in comparison to other Rieslings, but will never be a heavy as a red.
“Unpacking” your meal helps you decide how you want to balance your dish with your wine. Is your dish predominantly light -- a simple sushi roll, or an oyster? Is it predominantly heavy -- a rich, cream based dish? Does the bitterness of the arugula in your salad overpower the tanginess of the vinaigrette?
When you’ve figured out the dominant component, ask yourself whether you want to point out the similarities between food and wine, e.g. highly acidic wine with a highly acidic food like lime-doused ceviche. Or do you want to play them off each other, by, for instance, pairing a sweeter Riesling with salty fried chicken? Provided you follow these basic pairing principles, going with Riesling means the world is yours. And so is the chicken.
Cappie says: “The acidity comes into play big time there. It acts as a balance. It’s like adding lemon juice to fried fish. It adds that bite. Instead of your mouth feeling weighed down by the fat of the food and feeling like it’s coated, it comes in and cleans it all up and gets you ready for the next bite. And by doing so enhances the flavor of the next bite because your mouth is refreshed and ready to try something else.”
June says: “Whenever you’re trying to find the balance the pairing you want to balance the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. The perception of sugar will give weight to the wine so a Riesling that is off dry or sweeter is actually a great pairing with a heavier dish because they both have those elements of weight to them to give them balance.”