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By Lucy Wyndham

Making the perfect sandwich or bread and cheese platter requires more than just slapping a few ingredients together. First of all, you want real bread made from real grains without artificial flavors or preservatives. From there, you need to find the food and drink flavors that pair best with the bread you choose. Carefully considering the type of bread is key to pairing the right flavor with it. Generally, you want flavors to contrast and complement one another, not to compete or overlap.

White Breads, Like Baguettes and Vienna Loaf, Work With Big Flavor

If you want a dip, special cheese, pickle plate, or wine to be the star of the show, go with an unassuming white bread. Whether you choose a crusty baguette or a more buttery and refined Italian loaf, the mild flavors of white bread pair excellently with more powerful and in-your-face flavors, such as spicy chicken dip.

A word to the wise here: sourdough is not generic white bread. Sourdough is far more flavorful, which makes it a better choice for smooth cheeses and milder flavors. The acidity and hint of tartness to sourdough bread will bring out the sweetness and creaminess in the items that you pair with it, like an assortment of artesian spreading cheeses or even different kinds of nut butter.

Darker, Bolder Bread Can Hold Up To Powerful Foods

If you have a rustic loaf of whole-grain bread baking in your oven, or even a loaf of dark rye, you can combine that with something downright spicy. Both of these breads are excellent to dip into chilli, for example. Another unique pairing for wheat bread could be a curry stew. These breads tend to have a denser texture that works well with dipping into runny foods, as well as a strong but not overwhelming flavor that pairs well with both spice and savory seasoning.

Truthfully, bread pairing is as subjective as any other culinary art. Just because some people believe that sourdough pairs better with a creamy cheese than a tangy one doesn’t mean that you can’t mix the two. The most important aspect is being aware of both the texture and the flavor of the bread and thinking a bit about how it will bring out or highlight the flavors in the other foods you serve with it.