A great dish is only truly great if it’s paired with the right drink. But who says that the right drink need always be an alcoholic drink? There’s been a measurable shift toward conscientious drinking, especially among younger people, and so we’ve got a pretty good idea of what non-alcoholic drinks work with what.
Italy offers a fairly diverse range of popular cuisine, and so it’s a great place to experiment with different drink combinations. For the most part, pasta dishes work nicely with sparkling water, while the sweetness of a tomato-rich pizza is naturally complemented by grape juice. This doesn’t just work because we’re looking for a wine substitute; red grapes tend to complement tomato, and white ones complement the mozzarella. Take your pick depending on how your pizza is constituted.
What about heavier dishes?
The more grease and fat that’s in your dish, the more you’ll need something acidic to cut through. This is where lemon, lime, and grapefruit-based drinks can all work nicely. The natural bitterness of grapefruit will often help to offset the sweet greasiness found in a good salami.
Lemonade will naturally complement many fish dishes, for the same reason that lemons themselves do. Fish-and-chips is greasy, but lemonade will cut through.
When the sauce is really thick and unctuous, it might benefit from something carbonated – as this will help to clear all of the sauce out of your mouth. Think of it a bit like the sharp crash of a cymbal, which can be heard over even the loudest orchestra.
What about dessert?
Your choice of dessert will have a big influence on the drink you pair it with. Think about matcha tea, which tends to complement fruity desserts. On the other hand, big chocolatey flavours will tend to make a great match with sharp raspberry or orange-based drinks.
Often, you can make a fair guess at where the best flavour combinations lie by sticking to the classic combinations you might find on a particular plate. Cranberry sauce is a great match for brie and bacon – and so too is cranberry juice.
There are a few principles worth adhering to. Try to avoid gassy drinks when you’re eating something really fibre-heavy – like bean burritos – as this might lead to problems with bloating. Piling acids upon acids will often backfire, but acids combined with rich, heavy dishes will often make for an effective double-act.