Wine pairing with food, if done correctly, can truly make a difference to your entire dining experience. Now, the question is how to tell which wine will complement well what you’re dishing up?
If you’re wondering what wine goes with what food or what to eat with wine of your choice, we’re here to help you master the art of wine pairing.
Read our guide, learn the wine pairing basics and start pairing wines like an expert!
What Is Wine Pairing?
Wine pairing is a process of combining food dishes and wine based on the particular flavor components of both. The goal is simply to boost the taste of the food items and ultimately elevate the dining experience.
While pairing wine with food is essentially matching the complementary flavors, it also plays a vital role in helping to maximize the value that each element brings to the entire experience.
If you’re a foodie or a wine enthusiast, or simply enjoy a casual glass of wine with your dinner, learning how to pair wine with food is your way to go to get the most out of your culinary sensations.
11 General Wine Pairing Tips
If you’re new to the wine-pairing world and don’t know how to start with the magical matching process, here are a few crucial tips about wine and food pairing:
- The wine should be more acidic than the food.
- The wine should be sweeter than the food.
- The flavor intensity of the wine and food should be the same.
- Red wines have more bitterness.
- White wines have more acidity.
- Red wines are paired best with bold-flavored meats (such as red meat).
- White wines are paired best with delicate-intensity meats (such as chicken and fish).
- Wines with a bitter taste (for example, red wines) are best balanced with fatty food.
- It is better to match the wine with the sauce rather than with the meat.
- In general, red wines create congruent pairings with food.
- In general, white wines, rosé wines, and sparkling wines create contrasting pairings with food.
Flavor Profiles to Consider When Pairing Food and Wine
A successful wine and food matching is all about knowing which flavors both elements represent. When it comes to wine pairing, there 6 main flavor profiles to keep in mind:
Each flavor profile can be combined with another to create satisfying wine-food pairings. For example, you can mix and match bitter-tasting red wines with bold-flavored meaty dishes, but you can also combine it with sweet food. The quality of your eating sensations will depend on your personal preferences.
Methods of Pairings – Congruent Pairings vs. Contrasting Pairings
When it comes to food and wine pairing, there are 2 essential methods of doing it – congruent pairing and contrasting pairing.
Congruent pairing is when two similar flavors are combined to amplify the shared components and create a perfect balance of taste. For example, traditional mac and cheese with a creamy sauce will go well with a creamy Chardonnay or Viognier. Such a unique pairing will boost and elevate the key elements of the flavors, creating a perfectly coherent and rich experience.
Contrasting pairing, also known as a complementary pairing, is when one flavor cuts through the other one, balancing out its richness. For example, the same traditional mac and cheese can also work great with a sharper and more zesty Pinot Grigio, as the high acidity of the wine will balance out the fat in the dish.
8 Best Food and Wine Pairings
Matching food with the right wine that you also like will allow you to bring your dining experience to the next level. To make it easier for you to find the perfect food and wine combo, you can have a go with the tested and favored wine and food pairings highlighted below and pick the one that suits you best.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Meat
Cabernet Sauvignon is a rich, full-bodied red wine that makes a great pair with equally rich red meat. The wine is packed with tannin, which helps cut through the juiciness of steak but also goes perfectly with other meaty dishes like roast beef, lamb, or duck, as well as venison stew.
Syrah and Spicy Dishes
The spicy profile of Syrah makes a great match with spicy food and grilled meats creating a divine congruent red wine pairing. However, it’s important to keep the level of spiciness in your food equal to Syrah’s. If your food is significantly spicier than the wine, it will overpower it and cause the wine to lose its spicy profile and become tasteless.
Pinot Noir and Fatty Fish
The light-bodied and earthy Pinot Noir with a few tannins pairs well with fatty fish, like salmon or tuna. Along with fish, it makes a perfect match with pasta dishes, mushrooms, and pizzas.
Pinot Grigio and Seafood
Crisp and zesty Pinot Grigio combined with seafood, or light fish, is one of the most popular white wine pairings. The acidity of the wine goes well with the delicate meat of the fish, enhancing its flavor. Pinot Grigio is also a perfect match with pasta dishes and chicken.
Sauvignon Blanc and Salads
Sauvignon Blanc is considered one of the most food-friendly wines. The grassy notes and citrusy flavor of the wine make it a perfect combination, particularly with grain-based salads, green vegetables, and light appetizers. This white wine pairing also works great with herb-forwarded sauces, like basil pesto, chimichurri, or mojo sauce.
Riesling and Desserts
Sweet food needs sweet wine to create the most delicious congruent pairing. Riesling exhibits the perfect balance of acidity and sweetness. The wine features pleasant honey notes, which make it a delightful combination with milk or white chocolate, sweet cake, or ice cream.
Dry Rosé and Cheese
Rosé is one of the most diverse wines, having the characteristics of both white and red wine. It offers a refreshing taste and low bitterness due to a small amount of tannin. Its high acidity and fruity traits allow it to match perfectly with any cheese and cheesy dishes.
Sparkling Wine and Salty Food
Sparkling wine, mainly associated with celebratory occasions, pairs very well with different kinds of dishes, especially salty food and snacks. As it usually has high notes of sweetness, its flavor along with the carbonation cut through the saltiness of the food and balance it, creating a unique complementary pairing.
Food and Wine Pairings – Our Recommendations
Wine and Salmon
It’s common knowledge that delicate fish meat pairs incredibly well with wine, especially light dry white that doesn’t overshadow the dish. When it comes to salmon, a more flavorful and fattier fish, your wine options break open. This versatile, pink-fleshed fish allows you to get creative with the wine selection, ranging from various types of reds and whites to rosé and sparkling wines. All to create a truly delightful match, especially when you pair salmon with your favorite sides.
Looking for delicious wine and salmon combinations? Click here and learn more about them.
Wine and Cheese
Be it bold-flavored and intensely aromatic, or soft and delicately creamy, cheese creates the ultimate pairing with wine. Whether it’s dry or sweet white, light- to full-bodied red, or even sparkling, any type of wine will find its ideal match in all varieties of cheese. The key thing is to combine the cheesy treat with a bottle that will bring out its pioneering flavors without overpowering them – and vice versa.
Thirsty for more? Read our guide on wine and cheese pairing.
Wine and Pizza
Just like wine goes well with generally any food, the combination it makes with pizza is truly divine. Pizza toppings play a crucial role when it comes to selecting the most suitable type of wine that will enhance the flavor qualities of this widely beloved Italian dish. Whether it’s classic Margherita pizza, sweet and savory Hawaiian pizza, or meaty and flavorful Meat Lover’s pizza, each type will find its perfect bottle.
Do you want to learn more about pairing wine and pizza? Follow this link!
The Bottom Line
After reading our wine pairing guide, you should have a good grasp of how to pair wines and food. There is a range of possibilities when it comes to white wine and red wine food pairing. Still, it will all come down to your individual preferences in the end. Feel free to try out different wine pairings with food to find the combination you enjoy the most.
At Cellars Wine Club, you can find a selection of premium red and white wines and enjoy all varieties from different regions in the world. Join our club today and sign up for a wine subscription box designed specifically for you, so you can discover various wine tastes from the comfort of your home.