15 Handy Tips to Help You Pair Wine & Food

15 Food & Wine Pairing Tips from The Castle's sommelier

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

  1. 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.
  1. Tangy foods won’t overwhelm a zippy Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde from Portugal or Verdejo from Spain.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Silky whites – such as Chardonnays from California, Chile or Australia – are delicious with fish or any kind of seafood in a rich sauce.
  1. The slight sweetness of many Rieslings, Gewürztraminers and Vouvrays helps to tame the heat of spicy Asian and Indian foods.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Malbec, Shiraz and Côtes-du-Rhône are big and bold enough to pair with heavily spiced barbecue sauces.
  1. 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.
  1. California Cabernet, Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style blends are terrific with steaks or chops. Their firm tannins refresh the palate after each bite.
  1. 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.





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