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Pairings that please

Suggesting a wine for guests to enjoy with the nightly menu special is not a new idea. But today, consumers don’t have one-track wine minds. They’re looking beyond wine to beer, cocktails and even non-alcoholic options to pair with menu items. A recent Technomic Trends in Adult Beverages report finds that a variety of foods ranging from bar snacks and appetizers to entrées are being enjoyed with spirits, including vodka and rum, as well as frozen drinks.

Pairing these days isn’t as clear cut as it once was (i.e. serve red wine with red meat, white wine with fish). “Today’s matchmakers consider texture, flavor and components such as acidity and sweetness in food-and-beverage pairings made at a bar or restaurant or when buying for at-home enjoyment,” observes Donna Hood Crecca, senior director of the Adult Beverage Resource Group at Technomic, Inc. “They look at which pairings deliver complementary flavors and which provide intriguing contrasts, and they are eager to explore.”

Other Technomic report findings:

  • Seven in 10 consumers enjoyed a favorite drink on their most recent dining experience
  • It is difficult to establish a consumer drinking profile any longer—preferences are broad and dictated more by flavor and occasion than by a specific preference
  • Wine is still a dining favorite, but when it comes to beef pairings, Merlot and Red Zinfandel are just as popular as Cabernet Sauvignon 

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