Food and Wine Matching

Contents[Hide]

When diving into the world of food and wine pairing, most people are entirely confused after a few minutes. Food and wine matching seems confusing, but it actually only involves a few rules of thumb that are quite logical in concept. If you've ever had your mother give you a look and say "you're pairing that with the lemon chicken ?" then this guide is for you.

Basic Rules for Food and Wine Pairing

  • Red wine  with red meat  and white wine  with white meat  still holds true. Yes, it is better to serve a white wine with fish  than a red wine, but this rule is becoming increasingly irrelevant as our diets grow more and more complex.
  • An easy way to match wine and food is regionally. Match Italian food  with Italian wine ,French food  with French wine , and so on and so forth. Though you may not choose the absolute best wine to match your dish, it won't be a terrible match either.
  • Pair intensity. Light bodied wines  go best with lighter dishes, while full bodied wines  are great with heavier meals. 
  • Match flavours. Wines with hints of citrus  go well with meals with hints of citrus or fish seasoned with lemon .
  • Oppose flavours. Though this isn't recommended for beginners, matching a spicy food  with a super sweet wine  can create a burst of flavour and cleanse the palate.
  • The wine should always be sweeter than the meal.
  • Sweet dishes increase awareness of bitterness in wine and cause the wine to appear drier, stronger, and less fruity . Acidity in foods hide sour flavours in wines and cause the wine to taste richer and mellower. Sweet wines taste sweeter with acidic foods. Bitter foods cause the bitterness in the wine to be more apparent. Salty foods hide bitterness in wines and can cause sweet wines to taste sweeter.
  • Acidic wines and dishes involving cream don't mix, just like how lemon and milk  don't sound like the most appetizing pair.
  • Super spicy dishes and wines don't always mix. Sometimes the intense spice of a dish can destroy the flavour of wine, so look for a spicy wine that's strong enough to step up to the challenge.
  • Drink what you like. If you absolutely despise red wine, don't drink it just because the professionals say it tastes best with the dish you are eating.
  • Go to a wine tasting event or buy a variety of wines and see what tastes best with your favourite meals. Don't worry so much about what is supposed to taste good-- trust your own taste buds.
  • If you are bringing wine to a party or as a gift, do not worry about pairing wine with food unless you are sure what is being served. It is more important to bring a quality wine  than one that matches with the meal.

Pair Wine With Food

Amarone 

Barbera 

Barbaresco  or Barolo 

    • Enjoy With: Rich, full foods or acidic dishes. Try full lamb  and beef  dishes or stews, mushroom sauces  and dry, aged cheeses  with lots of flavors.
    • Avoid: Light and mild meals, seafood, chicken, and pork .

Beaujolais 

    • Enjoy With: Simple, sweet pork or spicy, full-flavour poultry dishes.
    • Avoid: Seafood, steak , lamb, and cream sauces.

Bordeaux  (red)

    • Enjoy With: Red meat, game , and strong cheeses.
    • Avoid: Most seafood, lighter meats (unless they are prepared to be full-flavour) and cream, citrus and vinegar sauces.

Brunello 

    • Enjoy With: Big meals with big flavour. Try game, red meat, hard flavorful cheeses, and mushrooms .
    • Avoid: Most seafood, lighter meats, and cream sauces.

Burgundy  (Red)

Cabernet Sauvignon 

Chablis 

    • Enjoy With: Crab ,lobster , light-bodied fish, fish in rich sauces, chicken, turkey, some pork dishes and cream sauces.
    • Avoid: Spicy, highly flavored, or fatty foods.

Champagne 

    • Enjoy With: Caviar , lobster, oysters  and chicken with light butter.
    • Avoid: Sauteed scallops ,smoked salmon , red meats, meats with strong flavour and rich, creamy sauces.

Chardonnay 

Chateauneuf 

    • Enjoy With: Flavorful meats, wild game and rich sauces.
    • Avoid: Light meats, simple dishes and acidic sauces.

Chianti 

Gewurztraminer 

    • Enjoy With: Fresh fruit , chicken, turkey, fish, cheese , and spicy foods.
    • Avoid: Simple or mild fish dishes.

Grenache ,Shiraz , or Mourvedre 

    • Enjoy With: Dishes with big, full flavour, red meats, game, and sauces with hints of pepper ,mushrooms , or an earthy quality.
    • Avoid: Seafood, mild or light meats and citrus or cream sauces.

Merlot 

Nebbiolo 

    • Enjoy With: Rich, full foods, acidic dishes, rich lamb and beef dishes or stews ,veal scallopini , earthy mushroom sauces, and dry, aged cheeses with lots of flavour.
    • Avoid: Light or mild dishes, seafood, chicken and pork.

Pinot Grigio 

    • Enjoy With: Lean, simple dishes, light fish, oysters, chicken, veal ,ham , light pasta ,ravioli ,Italian antipasto .
    • Avoid: Salmon, tuna, duck, game, red meat, rich sauces (including cream sauces).

Pinot Noir 

Port 

    • Enjoy With: Serve after the meal with chocolate  or blue cheese .
    • Avoid: Serving with most meals, as it overpowers most dishes.

Riesling 

Rioja 

    • Enjoy With: Chicken, tomatoes ,lamb stew , veal scallopini, quail, squab, and most Spanish dishes .
    • Avoid: Most seafoods and cream and vinegar based sauces.

Sangiovese 

Sauvignon Blanc 

    • Enjoy With: Delicately flavoured foods, slightly acidic dishes, grilled or sauteed foods, raw vegetables, warm weather ,casual meals ,crab , raw oysters, scallops ,shrimp , smoked seafood, white meats (like chicken or pork) and vinegar and citrus based sauces.
    • Avoid: Light fish, crab, sushi, oysters (unless raw), lamb and cream based sauces.

Valpolicella 

    • Enjoy With: Fish, chicken, pasta with tomato sauce. The Ripasso  variation goes better with fuller foods such as roast pork, tomato sauces with meat in it, and blue cheese sauces .
    • Avoid: Mild, rich cream sauces.

Zinfandel 

    • Enjoy With: Spicy dishes, foods with high fat content (such as beef), pork, sausage  and sauces with pepper, basil, oregano and mild tomatoes.
    • Avoid: Seafood, chicken, turkey and sauces based on butter or cream.

Rules for Serving Multiple Wines

  • Serve lighter wines before full body wines.
  • Serve wines with lower alcohol  content before ones with higher amounts of alcohol.
  • Dry wines  are served prior to sweet ones unless you are serving a sweet flavoured dish early on in the meal, in which case the sweet dish should be served with similarly sweet wine .

Related Guides

Wine

Red Wines

White Wines

Wine Glasses

Wine Tasting