How to Pair Food and Wine
Pairing food and wine is an acquired skill one learns throughout life. When a person begins diving into the world of wine, they probably have several questions.
Which wine is best with a certain dish or type of cuisine? What are the main do’s and don'ts of serving a meal with a wine pairing? Those are two common questions related to wine and food.
The good news is that we have the answers to any burning questions in this article. We have done the research and trial and error process so the aspiring entertainers can pair wine and food like a pro right from the beginning.
Impress that next dinner party by following our shortlist of pairing tips and tricks. Happy sipping!
Pair Sweet Wine With Fruity Desserts
The general rule of thumb is that wine should be sweeter than the food one serves it with. In the case of dessert, following this rule means very sweet wine. Often, a white variety will do the trick.
Sweet wine like Moscato d’Asti, demi-sec Champagne, or Vin Santo is a good choice to pair with desserts like fruit-flavored cakes and fruit salads. The fruit’s natural sweetness combines with the sweet wine to make a deliciously flavored overall dessert palette.
Rose Champagne Is More Than an Appetizer Drink
Many consider champagne to be a celebratory drink that pairs with appetizers. While it’s a good idea to serve traditional champagne with an appetizer course or hors d'oeuvres hour, a glass of rose bubbly is more than a starter.
Try a rose champagne with dinner. The flavor density of sparkling rose wines pairs well with chicken and fish. This drink complements many flavors and is a versatile pairing wine.
Seafood Dishes Pair Best With a Chilled White Wine
Serving seafood is a bold choice to begin with, and deciding on the right wine that will please dinner guests can be difficult. Chilled chardonnay is a classic seafood pairing, so a host can’t go wrong with it. Serve chardonnay with hearty fish and thicker sauces.
Another white wine serving option with seafood is a pinot grigio. Serve a chilled pinot grigio on a summer’s night with lighter fish fare. Keep the wine delicate if the fish is also delicate.
Pull Together Rich Red Meat Flavors with Rich Red Wine
Red wine goes well with red meat, similar to the way white wine goes with seafood and fish. The density of red wine is the perfect pairing for the strength and density of red meat flavors.
A cabernet sauvignon is an excellent companion to lamb chops. Perhaps try a Bordeaux with steak. As long as a host chooses a red wine with strong flavors to complement their strongly flavored dish, the guests will be pleased!
Fresh Dishes Go Best With Fresh Flavors Like Citrus Wines
Especially in a summer or springtime meal, an entertainer might find themselves looking for a lighter meal and wine to match the season. These fresh dishes go best with fresh wines that have citrus flavors and crisp notes.
A glass of Grüner Veltliner is great for dishes with fresh herbs, salads, and vegetables. Vermentino wines are also a good pairing for fresh and herb-centered dishes.
Our Best Tips and Tricks for Pairing Wine
Here are a few basic do’s and don’ts for pairing wine with food.
- Pick a wine that’s sweeter than the food.
- Serve a wine that’s more acidic than the food.
- With dishes containing heavy sauce, pair the wine to match the sauce instead of the meat.
- Avoid pairing heavier wines with caviar.
- Do not serve high alcohol wine with spicy food.
- Try not to drink white wines, like pinot grigio, with heavier meats like steak.
- Check out our pairing list below. It’s an easy way to narrow down the type of wine that pairs with certain foods. However, any host should drink what they enjoy even if it’s not in line with our recommended pairings.
- Pair sparkling wine with chicken, fish, fried foods and veggie-heavy meals.
- Have seafood, like crab, shrimp or lobster, with a rich white wine.
- Serve a sweet white wine with dessert.
- Pasta dishes pair best with dry white wine.
- Charcuterie boards and other light-meat and cheesy dishes pair nicely with a light red wine or rose.
- Serve a bold red wine with steak, lamb and heavy sauces.
- A medium red wine goes best with grilled chicken and pork.
These are just a few examples of what to do and what to avoid, but ultimately pairing wine has a learning curve, so experiment even if it is not concretely within the confines of these tips.
That is everything an entertainer must know about pairing wine and food! Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment.