How to Pair Wine and Food
Finding the right wine and food combination can be incredibly difficult but with the right guidelines, finding a great pairing can be simple. There are a few different things to keep in mind when choosing wines and the first consideration is the food that you are choosing. It is important to first choose your food then choose your wine, and that is how these guidelines can help.
Whether a soup, cheese course or something more substantial, slightly sweeter whites and rich whites are great! Semillon, Rieslings, Sauvignon Blanc and some Chardonnays all pair well and are very good starting options for many reasons. These wines are generally not heavy so they will not compete with cheese courses and can help to cleanse the palate. Often light and fruity, they work well with many light appetizers. These wines have a refreshing flavor without being heavy, will allow you to smoothly transition to your next courses without weighing down your guests.
$ Erath Pinot Gris
$$ White Haven Sauvignon Blanc
$$$ B&G Pouilly-Fuisse
Entrees usually mean meat, but not necessarily. The protein you choose, and its preparation can make a huge difference when it comes to choosing the wine.
For example, most seafood pairs well with crisp, acidic whites such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnays…but, grilled Seafood changes the playing field, and surprisingly softer reds like Pinot Noir are definitely not off limits.
$ Bex Riesling
$$ Simple Life Pinot Noir
$$$ Kendall Jackson Chardonnay
2. Poultry, Pork and Lamb
These three often mimic seafood if plain in its preparation, but more bolder flavors and preparation should easily pair with softer reds such as Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Merlot and Malbec. These medium reds are the easiest to pair with meats of any kind, as they are not too rich nor too light. And its easy to find some affordable labels in this category of wine.
$ Tilia Malbec
$$ Bridlewood Pinot Noir
$$$ Charles Krug Merlot
Beef traditionally requires heavier red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlots. Cab’s have a bad reputation as needing a good aging before consumption, which can be true, but not for all. While Merlots tend to be more drinkable. And there are many blends which offer the best of both worlds. The deep flavor of the beef requires a wine tannic enough to muscle through the fattiness.
$ Montgras Carmenere
$$ Kendall Jackson Summation
$$$ Coppola Claret
Pastas are often a relatively blank canvas, so pairing wine will often go with the most assertive flavor, whether that be the protein or most often the sauce. Rich creamy sauces and cheese-filled pastas require an acidic wine such as a good Chardonnay to help cut through the fat, whereas astringent sauces can often do with a lighter wine like Pinot Grigio that does not compete, but only embellishes. Hearty red sauces and heavy meat tosses often go well with reds like Zinfandels, Chiantis and Brunellos.
$ Rosenblum Zinfandel
$$ Santa Christina Toscana
$$$ Kris Pinot Grigio
Desserts are complicated. While things like chocolate are next to impossible to pair with a wine, other desserts are very pair-worthy. Some dessert wines such as Sauternes, Ice Wines and Late Harvest Rieslings are so sweet…they are desserts unto themselves, and should be served in moderation. Ports come in many styles, but Tawny Ports, with their aging, give them unique pairing abilities…their aging gives them spice, sweetness and depth which is delicious with fresh fruit, blue cheeses like Stilton and spice cakes. Muscat or Moscatos are less sweet but fruity and pair well with fresh melon, cheeses and fruit desserts. Some guests may enjoy a homemade biscotti to dip.
$ Bex Riesling
$$ Warre’s Otima Port
$$$ Fusta Nova Muscat
Simple Rules…Keep flavors in balance. Match mild foods with mild wines and big flavorful foods with big flavorful wines. But remember to DRINK WHAT YOU LIKE. This should always take precedence over recommendations, and you and your guests will always have an enjoyable experience
Use this infographic as a reference guide when pairing wine and food: http://visual.ly/wine-pairing-chart