Food and Drink Pairing Basics – For Parents



Dégustation is the appreciation of various foods and drinks, focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art and good company.


So, as a parent it makes sense to pair our food and drink with the ones we spend the most time with, our kids.


Pairing can be done in 1 of two ways:

  1. Complementary—match food and drink to the child. These pairings make the time together with your kids much more enjoyable.
  2. Contrasting – contrast food and drink with the child. These pairings make life a little more adventurous when spending time with your kids.


If you have a tribe of children you are going to become a very practised expert in degustation in no time at all.


To make life more balanced within your family, food and drink should have the same intensity as the child.  Overall, it’s best to match the drink with the child rather than with the food, it will help you, as the parent, cope better.


Here are my suggestions for a smooth time with your children.

When your child is:

Acidic – have an acid tongue, well matched to a drink and meal that contains vinegar and lemon juice.  Food and drink should be more acidic than the child, consider salt and vinegar chips with a lemon, lime and bitters


Aromatic – they should be placed in the bath while you enjoy a curry and a ginger beer in peace

Bitter – they hate you or their siblings, you need to match this with a bitter red wine and balance it out with fats. I prefer chocolate as my choice of fats

Bold – fearless and talking back, pair with drinks such as spirits and liquors and your food should be bold colours, designs or shapes


Complex – you just don’t know what is up with them, try a complex wine along with a complex recipe to keep you focused in the kitchen for a while


Earthy – forever wet, muddy, and dirty.  Meals are best served with earthy vegetables such as carrots and a good quality mineral water out of the depths of the mountains


Fine – dressed to the nines and looking gorgeous, partake in a fine wine along with a dish that requires over 300 recipe steps to create and is much smaller than the sparkling white plate it is served on


Gamey – eager or willing to do something new or challenging, pair this up with some fish and tequila


Happy – and light, enjoy white wines that are light on the palate, pairs beautifully with light-intensity meats served with lettuce


Heavy – a dead weight and wants to be carried instead of walking by themselves, best options would be a mud cake and a heavy beer


Hot – and sweaty and constantly red faced, shout yourself a hot chilli or curry dish, paired with a hot toddy


Rich – has a sense of self entitlement, best enjoyed with caviar and a very expensive port


Rustic – a bit of a shambles with shirt not tucked in, hair not brushed, best enjoyed with an Eton mess and a malted well aged whiskey

Sweet – well behaved, kind and friendly (does this even happen?), taken with premixed drinks (spirits and soft drink), pavlova or chocolate.  Food and drink should be sweeter than the child


Zesty – fun and loud, best paired with citrus fruit juice and any cake that has citrus rind in the ingredients


Bon Appétit


Which pairings, or contrasts, will you be trying out very soon?