Using chemistry to pair wine and food at Playground ATX

Playground ATX’s ZiNG! Wine Workshop will help you understand how to break down wine based on its structure for optimal food pairing.

A plate of food — specifically, spinach, apples, tomato, lemon slices, cheese and crackers, and cups of blue cheese — is seen on a tabletop from above, surrounded by wine glasses filled with red and white wine.

Pair wine with the eight elements of food at Playground ATX’s ZiNG Wine Workshop.

Photo by ATXtoday

You, our dear readers, asked us to provide you with more content on local classes, and our pen is at your disposal.

Today, we’re kicking off a series on what and where to learn in Austin, in which we attend some of ATX’s best classes and report back.

To start, we took a trip to Playground ATX (you may remember the culinary incubator from our interview with its founders last month) for the restaurant’s ZiNG! Wine Workshop.

In the foreground to the right, a hand holds a mostly empty glass of white wine. In the background, other glasses of wine sit on a table next to a piece of paper with a chart mapping the profile of that wine's elements.

We built “profiles” for the wines we tasted based on how we rated them in six structural elements.

Photo by ATXtoday

What to expect

The ZiNG! class, led by Playground ATX founder Sue Kim-Drohomyrecky, is all about how to use the chemistry and structure of wine to best pair it with food.

The widely taught program begins with a tasting, rating wines on six elements: acidity, viscosity, fruitiness, sugar, alcohol levels, and tannins.

Then, attendees are led through the eight elements of food (salt, oxalates, acidity, umami, fat, sugar, spice, and protein) and presented with a plate of bites. Under Sue’s guidance, we tried out different wine and food combos, noting in a personal booklet which pairings worked best and why.

At the end, the Playground ATX team brought out even more wine and food from their current headliner, East Meets Wings, for us to experiment with more complex pairings.

City Editor Figi is smiling at the camera, while holding a glass of wine and sitting at a table with more wine and Zing! Wine Workshop booklets.

City Editors Figi and London attended Playground ATX’s ZiNG! Wine Workshop last month.

Photo by ATXtoday

What we learned

City Editor London here. In this class, I learned not only how to taste wine but also how to taste food. I also learned:

  • Tannins cause your mouth to feel drier because they cling to proteins in your saliva, which is why many red wines pair well with high-protein foods.
  • Acidic wines and acidic foods go together like Longhorns and football.
  • Tomatoes are considered umami — no, really.

Now it’s your turn.

Playground ATX’s ZiNG! class costs $50 per person, and typically runs about 90 minutes.

The next class is slated for Monday, Feb. 19 — get tickets, or keep an eye on the restaurant’s events calendar for more upcoming dates.

More from ATXtoday