There’s an art that goes with wine and food pairings. Get it right and your guests’ taste buds will explode with pleasure. But get it wrong and you may find you’re the only one in attendance the next time you host a dinner party. Luckily, our wine and food pairing guide can help you get it right the first time.
If you are new to wine and food pairings, there are a few simple rules to live by that can greatly improve your results. When choosing the wine for your dinner, keep the following in mind:
- The wine should be sweeter and more acidic than the food
- The wine should have the same flavor intensity as the food
- More astringent wines are best when they are balanced with fat
- If the meal features a sauce, then match the wine with the sauce instead of with the meat
To help get you started, we will look at the differences of red wine pairings and white wine pairings and why each work with the types of foods they compliment.
Red Wine Pairings
Red wine typically creates what is known as “congruent pairings.” This means that both the wine and the food that it is being paired with share certain flavor compounds. When enjoyed together in the same meal, the wine and food amplify each other’s shared flavor characteristics. This is the reason why red wine pairs so wonderfully with meat and mushrooms.
What Food Goes with Red Wine?
Since red wines tend to be more bitter, they pair best with bold flavored meats like beef, venison, duck, pheasant, lamb, and sausage. But the more you experiment with your red wine pairings you will discover that certain red wines taste better with certain foods. For instance, whereas Cabernet Sauvignon goes great with roast or grilled lamb, Merlot pairs better with turkey or roasted chicken. Meanwhile, Malbec pairs beautifully with tomato-heavy chicken dishes, vegetarian stews, and even bold tasting fish like salmon, and bright reds, like Pinot Noir, taste best when paired with tuna or salad.
White Wine Pairings
White wine typically creates what is known as “complementary pairings.” This means that the wine and the food that it is being paired with share very few flavor compounds. When enjoyed together in the same meal, the wine and food contrast each other’s flavor characteristics to create a balanced flavor profile.
What Food Goes with White Wine?
Because white wines tend to be sweeter and more acidic than reds, they pair best with light-intensity meats like fish and chicken, cheeses, and most fruits and vegetables. Again, as with red wines, certain white wines will pair better with certain foods. For instance, Champagne pairs wonderfully with caviar, Chardonnay is ideal for lobster, oysters are enjoyed best with a Chablis, and you will want a glass of Sauvignon Blanc if you’re having a grilled Caesar salad. Meanwhile, a slightly bolder white wine like Riesling will be best paired with a bolder flavored poultry dish, like Thai chicken curry.
Perfecting your wine and food pairings takes a little bit of learning and a lot of experimentation. Before you start sending out invites to your next dinner event, create the dish you are planning on serving and try a few different wines to see which one pairs best. You will know you found the right pairing when the food and wine combine to create a wonderful range of flavors in your mouth.