Tips to Wine/Food Pairings

There are many easy tips to help you be a winner every time you pair food with wine.  I have broken these on many an occasion and the results were good, but following a simple rules will have a great effect on any dining experience.

  1. Watch the Spice!  Eating foods that are spiced, seasoned, hot, or salty need fruity wines.  Tannins, oak, and high alcohol content will kick up the heat and ruin the experience.  For whites go Alsatian: try Rhine Reisling, Gewurztraminer, or Pinot Gris.  For reds go light: Gamay or Pinot Noir.  You also can go with dry rose.

  2. Rich and Fat.  Rich, fat dishes should go with heavy, full wines.  Try Viognier, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Syrah.

  3. Acidity, Acidity.  Foods and sauced higher in acid: tomato, citrus, vinegars, and canned or bottled vegetables can be cut and pair well with higher acid wines.  Try Sauvignon Blanc, dry Reisling, or Pinot Grigio for whites and Pinot Noir or northern Italian red varietals like Barbera and Dolcetto.

  4. Sauced.  In most cases, it is best to pair the wine with the sauce.  Lighter sauces with lighter wines, ie. lemon caper sauce with Pinot Grigio.  Heavy sauces with fuller wines, ie. bordelaise sauce with Cabernet Sauvignon.  If there is a wine used to make the sauce, pair that same wine with the meal.  Please use quality wines for cooking and a different, higher quality wine for the meal people!

  5. Animal Protein.  Pair the proteins with the body of the wine.  Lighter meats with light to medium bodied wines, ie. salmon with Pinot Noir, roasted chicken breast with Gruner Veltliner.  Heavier meats with medium to full wines, ie. pork loin with Chardonnay, sirloin with Malbec.

  6. Regional Approach.  If you are cooking a regional recipe, try a regional wine.  Tuscan cuisine with Chianti, grilled Australian lamb with Shiraz, etc.  Older cuisines were created to go with traditional styles of wine and varietals.

  7. Sweets.  The sweetness of a dish should be less than that of the wine.  Sweet BBQ sauces with Zinfandel, light carmelized sauces with Madeira, cherry sauce with Ruby Port are a few examples.

  8. Don't Over-Do It!  Balance is key.  Do not let the meal overpower the wine or vice versa.

  9. Light to Full.  When having multiple courses, progress from lighter to heavier wines.  Open a bottle of Sylvaner for your spinach salad with goat cheese then try some Barbaresco with the veal chop.

  10. Know What You Like.  Make sure you pick out wines you enjoy, not wines that are picked by magazines, scores, or marketing.  You are sure to enjoy any meal if your favorite wines are involved!

This can be fun.  Try these combos reply with any new ones or questions!

(Top Image Courtesy of Flickr)