15 Handy Tips to Help You Pair Wine & Food
If you dread the dinner party dilemma of choosing wines for your menu, try these 15 handy pairing tips. They will save you a lot of time… and stress!
15 Handy Wine Pairing Tips
- Champagne is perfect with anything salty, as are most dry sparkling wines, such as brut Champagne and Spanish cava. These wines actually have a faint touch of sweetness which makes them extra refreshing – think champagne & caviar.
- Tangy foods won’t overwhelm a zippy Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde from Portugal or Verdejo from Spain.
- Using fresh herbs? Austrian Grüner Veltliner’s citrus-and-clover scent is lovely with lots of fresh herbs. Other similar go-to grapes would include Albariño from Spain and Vermentino from Italy.
- Light seafood dishes take on more flavour when matched with equally delicate white wines, such as Pinot Grigio, Arneis from Italy or a French Chablis.
- Silky whites – such as Chardonnays from California, Chile or Australia – are delicious with fish or any kind of seafood in a rich sauce.
- The slight sweetness of many Rieslings, Gewürztraminers and Vouvrays helps to tame the heat of spicy Asian and Indian foods.
- Moderately sweet sparkling wines, such as Moscato d’Asti, demi-secchampagne and Asti Spumante, help to emphasise the fruit flavours in desserts rather than intensifying the sweetness.
- Want a relatively safe bet for almost any dish? Try rosé sparkling wines such as rosé champagne, cava or sparkling wine from California. They have a depth of flavour and richness that pair well with a wide variety of cuisines.
- Some cheeses pair better with white wine and some with red, yet almost all cheese pairs well with a dry rosé. These wines have the acidity of white and the fruit character of a red; the perfect compliment to a good cheese.
- Recipes made with ingredients like mushrooms and truffles taste great with light-bodied reds, such as Pinot Noir and Dolcetto, because they are full of savoury depth.
- Pairing regional food & wine is almost fool proof. The wines & foods have been naturally paired over centuries by locals. For example, Tuscan recipes and Tuscan wines are almost always a natural fit.
- Malbec, Shiraz and Côtes-du-Rhône are big and bold enough to pair with heavily spiced barbecue sauces.
- If you can use the same adjectives to describe a wine and a dish, the pairing will often work. For instance, the words rustic and rich describe Zinfandel, Italy’s Nero d’Avola and Spain’s Monastrell as well as chicken liver mousse.
- California Cabernet, Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style blends are terrific with steaks or chops. Their firm tannins refresh the palate after each bite.
- When a meat is heavily seasoned, look for a red wine with lots of spicy notes. Syrah from Washington, Cabernet Franc from France and Xinomavro from Greece are all good choices.