CULINARIA

Bourbon Food
Pairing Tips

BY ETHAN KELLEY

Grilled Meat and vegetables on a wooden tray. Background 3 bourbon dram glasses and seafood plate

A few simple tips will have you on your way to enjoying your favorite bourbon with just about any meal. Keep in mind that if y ou have an excellent bourbon and a delicious dish, you’re bound to be happy even if it’s not the perfect match!

• Match flavors, or contrast flavors.

Pair a sweet dessert with a bourbon that exudes honey, chocolate, and berry flavors, or contrast the sweet flavors with something salty and savory, such as aged cheese or fried foods. Bourbons with saline notes will pair well with shellfish and bourbons with smoky notes, with barbecue or smoked fish.

• Check the ABV.

Lower proof bourbons match with lighter foods (think seafood or pasta), whereas higher proof bourbons pair more easily with bolder foods including grilled and charred meats.

• Consider the barrel-finish.

Different types of barrels are used to finish bourbons, and each impart distinct flavors. Bourbons finished in sherry casks, which add nutty, dried-fruit flavors, tend to pair well with strong cheeses or charcuterie boards, whereas port-finished bourbons are best with chocolate or fruit desserts.

• Mix it up.

Cocktails offer a way to incorporate the flavors in your meal with the flavors of bourbon, whether adding citrus, bitters, or honey.

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