Wine And Food Pairing Tips
Rule #1 – Drink What You Like
Rule #2 – Refer to Rule #1
What to consider when pairing wine and food
- What kind of wine do you like?
- Texture of food (heavy or light)
- Preparation (grilled, sautéed, baked, etc.)
- Sauce (cream, tomato, wine, etc.)
How Wine and Food Interact
The major components of wine (alcohol, sweetness, acid, and tannin) relate to the basic tastes of food (sweetness, sourness, acid, and tannin). Some of the components exaggerate each other and some compensate for each other.
Tannic Wines – Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo, Barbaresco, any wine (white or red) that has become tannic from aging in new oak barrels
· Can diminish the perception of sweetness in food
· Can taste softer and less tannic when served with protein-rich, fatty foods, such as steak or cheese
· Can taste less bitter when paired with salty foods
· Can taste astringent, or mouth-drying, when paired with spicy foods
Sweet Wines – White Zinfandel, sweet Rieslings, dessert wines
· Can taste less sweet, but fruitier, when matched with salty foods
· Can make salty foods more appealing
· Can go well with sweet foods
Acidic Wines – most Italian white wines, dry Rieslings, Rioja
· Can taste less acidic when served with salty foods
· Can taste less acidic when served with slightly sweet foods
· Can make foods taste slightly saltier
· Can counterbalance oily or fatty heaviness in food
High Alcohol Wines – most wines produced from grapes grown in warm climates, fortified wines like Port and Sherry
· Can overwhelm lightly flavored or delicate dishes
· Can go well with slightly sweet foods
Complement or Contrast
Wines and foods have different flavors, textures, and aromas. Pairing wine and food can enhance a dish in a way that would have never happened if you didn’t pair them.
Complement – choose a wine that is similar in some way to the dish you are planning to serve.
Contrast – find flavors or texture in a wine that are not in a dish but that would enhance it.
Characteristics of a wine can either complement or contrast with the characteristics of a dish.
· The wine’s flavors: earthy, herbal, fruity, vegetal, etc.
· The intensity of flavor in the wine: weak flavor, moderate, or very flavorful
· The wine’s texture: crisp and firm, or soft and supple
· The weight of the wine: light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied
Barbecue: Zinfandel, Shiraz
Beef: Zinfandel, Cotes du Rhone, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec
Cheeses: Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay
Chicken: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chianti, Chardonnay
Chinese: Gewurztaminer, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot
Chocolate: Port, Amarone
Desserts: Port, Sherry, IceWine
Duck: Viognier, Pinot Noir, Cabernet,
Fish: Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltiner, Pinot Noir
Lamb: Rioja, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Malbec, Pinot Noir
Pasta: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Chianti
Pork: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Chianti, Merlot, Barbera
Shellfish: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay
Turkey: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir
Vegetarian: Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Chianti
Old Faithfuls are wines that will pair well with just about any dish. These wines are light- to medium-bodied and have a balance of fruit and acidity, so the dish will not be overpowered. You will enjoy the perfect balance of flavors from both the wine and food.
White Wines: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling
Red Wines: Chianti, Rioja, Cotes du Rhone, Pinot Noir, Merlot