Wine and Food Pairing Tips

Wine and food pairing can be just as complex, if not more, than wine tasting.

It is a balancing act between flavors of the wine and components of the dishes. When the right combinations are made, it can elevate the drink and the dish to magnificent levels of enjoyment. Having a meal with your wine creates a new experience for all to enjoy and remember, along with all the stories and good times while slowing down to enjoy life. Learning the basic guidelines will help even the least experienced create wonderful meals and impress crowds. While this is a lot to digest (pun intended), don't panic!

The first rule is the wine should not overpower the meal, and vice versa.

A red wine should be paired with flavorful red meats like steak, while lighter simple white wines should be paired with white meats like chicken. The heavier bolder flavors of red wine pair best with heavier seasoned meats (always pair to any sauces or rubs used, not necessarily the meat itself). When picking the red wine to pair, go with similar flavors to amplify similar flavor components:

  • if the wine is smokey, peppery, and earthy = go with a grilled peppered steak and potatoes;
  • if the wine is full of cherry, chocolate, and a hint sweeter = pair it with a nice BBQ pot roast.

With white wines, you generally pair complementary flavors: lemon notes in a Seyval Blanc wine go great with seafood or a buttery Chardonnay goes wonderfully with popcorn.

Don't be afraid of sweet wines either!

The sugar will help bring out the sweet and salty flavors of the dish, such as a sweet Riesling paired with ham - the higher acid even helps balance the salt! Or a Concord wine paired with a sweet BBQ or chicken wings! But never pair a sweeter food with a drier wine as they will fight and compete for attention: ice cream with Cabernet Sauvignon is terrible idea, but ice wine with ice cream is delectable.