Science behind pairing

You do not have to be a wine wizard to know dry red wine plays nice with a well-marbled steak. Now white-smocked scientists are backing up what your plebian palate told you long, long ago.

According to several scientific studies, we want our mouths to be lubricated just right.

Fat and grease in foods causes your mouth to over-lubricate and creates a slippery feeling on your tongue. In contrast, tannins in wine and tea cause your mouth to feel dry and puckering.

While neither feeling is particularly pleasant by itself, magic happens when the two combine.

Saliva is the main way your mouth restores balance. When you eat fatty foods, wine tannins or tannic tea restores balance faster than saliva. It’s a reason you enjoy wine or tea with meals.

Scientists also experimented with water, and water did not work nearly as well. From time out of memory, wine lovers have proclaimed wine beats water; science now confirms it. Bless you, science.

You have many options if you want food-wine pairing help. A wine store with experienced personnel is a great place to start. The web also offers many pairing sites:

• FoodAndWinePairing is easy to use and fun:

• Kendall-Jackson Winery has a helpful downloadable .pdf file: (click on food & wine button).

• Lisa Shea has a very helpful site about all aspects of wine: (click on wine pairings, which will lead to several other choices).

• For a fee, you can subscribe to the websites of leading wine magazines Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast; they have extensive coverage.

Next time someone asks you why you enjoy wine, tell them scientists assert it is an effective way to achieve balanced palate lubrication.

Tasting notes:

• Lapostolle Casa Grand Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. Red fruit, blackberry, cedar, spice; chewy tannin; excellent value from top Chilean maker. $12

• Selby Sonoma County Merlot 2007. Very cherry, chocolate, jammy; medium tannin-acidity; smooth, opulent, polished, great mouth feel, delicious. $23

• Luce Della Vite Toscana Lucente 2010. Rich, bold, big super Tuscan; blackberry-cherry, raspberry, expresso, cocoa; ripping tannins—decant. $30

Last round: “Wine is proof God loves us and loves to see us happy.”—Benjamin Franklin