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The impenetrable jargon surrounding wine and wine appreciation can be easy to mock. There can be unnecessary pretense, gibberish and intimidation conveyed in the language used by wine lovers as they discuss various styles of fermented grape juice.

Working as a wine writer and educator means continually striving to communicate with clarity and precision, striving to avoid insider jargon in place of something less precious and more meaningful. The danger of writing about a specific community is you risk speaking solely to its constituents to the exclusion of others, which brings us to the discussion of food-friendly wines.

The problem with labelling a wine as being food-friendly suggests some wines may be openly hostile to food. That’s not the case. Every wine will pair with one dish or another. Some wines happen to work with a wider assortment of dishes.

Many wine cultures around the world believe wine is food. It’s a de facto part of the dining experience in towns and villages throughout Europe. As wine appreciation spread through North America, wine grew to become a solo act. Bigger, bolder, flavourful trophy wines were produced and enjoyed without a thought about what you could enjoy eating with it.

In the 1990s and 2000s, food-friendly was seen in some circles as a negative attribute. If a wine needed to be accompanied by food, it lacked substance or complexity. It was wimpy. Lacklustre.

Today, winemakers around the world aspire to make food-friendly styles. Producers in warmer climates are looking to create fresh and inviting styles, possibly with lower alcohols and less obvious oak. Even blockbuster Australian shiraz and blue-chip Californian cabernets are being produced to convey freshness and finesse without sacrificing ripeness, concentration or complexity as a result.

Food-friendly styles of wine share common attributes. They are wines with vibrant acidity that help to refresh the palate between bites. These styles work well with any dish that would benefit with a squeeze of lemon.

Balance also helps make wines more appetizing to serve with a meal. If its acidity, alcohol, sweetness, intensity and structure are integrated and harmonious, it’s more likely to match with a broader range of flavours and ingredients.

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