There is something magical when the perfect combination of flavors in wine can highlight, enhance and harmonize with the flavors in your food. How can you know whether a pairing will work? There are basic principles to follow when looking to pair food and wines together. Here are some general guidelines to follow when pairing wine with your food:
Match weight of both your meal and wine
Is your meal light or heavy on the stomach? In general, stronger wines, like a full-bodied red, pair best with stronger flavors and vice versa. Pairing a light white wine with a flavorful steak wouldn’t do much to complement each other. Look for a wine with flavor and aroma characteristics that evoke the trademark flavors of your entree. The right wine combination makes the food itself taste better without overwhelming or disappearing next to it.
Red wine with beef, white wine with chicken
This is a general principle that most people tend to follow. Here is a general chart to help get you started with pairing:
- Chicken – Chardonnay or lighter reds such as Rioja, Barbera, Grenache, Burgundy
- Green Salad – Whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc.
- Grilled Fish – Light medium-bodied whites such as Pinot Grigio, Chablis
- Pasta (red sauce) – Chianti, Zinfandel, Pinot Blanc
- Pasta (white sauce) – Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Viognier, Gavi
- Raw or steamed shellfish – Crisp, acidic wines such as Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc
- Steak – Full-bodied red such as Cabernet, Bordeaux
Drink what you like
Remember that all of these are just general guidelines; there are exceptions to everything. If you like to drink a certain wine with a certain food, then it’s not wrong by any means. Experimenting with different food and wines will uncover what you like the best.