"A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine." - Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

“Wine is like beauty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Wine is on the palate of the beholder.”

Simple rules to get started pairing food and wine

Drink what you like. What you like to drink always takes precedence over any recommendation.

Start by thinking about the dish or meal as a whole. What are its dominant characteristics?

Is it mild or flavorful?

Is it fatty or lean?

Is it rich or acidic?

With these characteristics in mind, select a wine that will:

Keep flavors in balance

It is usually desirable for the flavour intensities of the food and wine to match so one does not overpower the other.

Match mild foods with mild wines. Match big, flavourful foods with big, flavourful wines. (For example, pair a bold-flavoured pepper steak with a spicy, bold red Zinfandel.)

Similarly you generally want to match the richness of the food and the richness of the wine. (For example, pair a rich Chicken in cream sauce with a rich Chardonnay.)

Cleanse the palate with tanins or acids

If you're eating a relatively rich, 'fatty' dish and thinking about drinking a red wine (when you eat a beef steak, for example) you probably want a wine with some good tannins in it to help cleanse the palate such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you're eating a very rich, 'fatty/oily' dish and thinking about drinking a white wine (when you eat fried chicken, for example) you probably want to contrast the meal with a refreshingly crisp acidic wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc. It is a pleasant sensation to feel the acidity of a wine cutting through the richness of the food. An amazing pairing of this is having Champagne or sparkling wine with battered fish and chips.

This rule does not comply for dishes that are just relatively fatty - such as Chicken in cream sauce - which will probably do better with a rich Chardonnay that can match the rich flavours.

Sweet wines such as dessert wines have a high sugar content and should be paired with sweet desserts that also have a high sugar content. Dessert wines also go well over vanilla ice cream and you could always serve your ice cream with apricots that have been infused in a dessert wines.

A trend that is popular at the moment is pairing sweet and salty. Sweet wine can also be paired with cheese and crackers.


Match Acids with Acids

If you're eating a dish with a strong acidic content (such as fish with lemon or pasta with tomato sauce) pair it with an acidic wine that can keep up with the acids in the food.

Acidic Wines and Cream Don't Mix

Rich cream sauces will usually clash with an acidic wine like a Sauvignon Blanc.

Think about it this way...If you squeezed lemon juice into a cup of milk, would it taste good?

Wine and Strong Spices

Strong spices, such as hot chili peppers in some Chinese or Indian food, can clash and destroy the flavors in a wine such as Pinot Grigio as these are light flavoured wines. In most cases, wine is not the ideal thing to drink. However, if wine is what you must have, consider something spicy and sweet itself such as an off-dry Gewurtztraminer or Riesling.

When In Doubt...

Remember that foods generally go best with the wines they grew up with.

So if you're eating Italian food, think about having an Italian wine.

This isn't a requirement, but often helps simplify the decision.

What are Tannins?

Tannins can come from many places, including the skins of the grapes used in winemaking as well as the wood barrels a wine may have been aged in.

Tannin tastes similar to the flavour you would get if you sucked on a tea bag.

This astringent flavour is what helps strip the fats from your tongue and thereby cleanse the palate of the rich fats from a meal and provide a refined, refreshing drink.

Sediment in Wine


Why do some wines have sediment? Sediment can form naturally in wine both during the fermentation process and while maturing in a bottle. Some wines are more likely to develop sediment and some wines will almost never form sediment. Wine sediment isn't harmful and can be perceived as a sign of wine's quality, but one should separate sediment from wine before serving.

The sediment which develops in red wine bottles is formed from tannins and other solid matter that gradually falls out of the wine. The presence of this material helps give the wine character and complexity. Sediment needs to be removed as it is not pleasing to look at it in your glass but more importantly it can give a nasty, bitter flavour to the wine and may interfere with any of the subtle nuances that have developed during the aging process.

If you're serving a red wine that's been aging for several years, you'll want to hold it up to the light to see if a sediment has formed. If so, set the wine bottle upright for a few days before serving so all the sediment collects in small area at the bottom of the bottle. When you open the bottle, you'll want to decant it first before serving and possibly aerate the wine as well. A simple trick for easy decanting is to get a coffee filter and filter holder and pour the wine through that into a jug, it’s a quick and easy way to catch all of the sediment.

Aerating Wine

Aerating wine or letting wine breatheis simply maximizing your wine's exposure to the surrounding air. This will help the wine to warm up, the aromas of the wine will open up, the flavour profile will soften and the overall flavour characteristics will improve.

Typically red wines are the ones to benefit most from breathing before serving. However, there are select whites that will also improve with a little air exposure. In general, most wines will improve with as little as 15-20 minutes of air time. However, if the wine is young with high tannin levels, it will need more time to aerate before enjoying.

For example, a young Cabernet Sauvignon will likely require around an hour for proper aeration and flavour softening to take place. Not that you cannot drink it as soon as it is uncorked, but it to enjoy it at its best you should give the wine time to breath.

It is important to note that mature wines of 8 years or more are a whole other story. These wines will benefit most from decanting and then will only have a small window of aeration opportunity before the flavour profiles begin to deteriorate, therefore the window of 15-20 minutes would be fine.

Now the question is how do you aerate your wine? Some believe that merely uncorking a bottle of wine and allowing it to sit for a bit is all it takes to aerate. However this is not the case, as there is simply not enough room at the top of the bottle to permit adequate amounts of air to make contact with the wine. So what's a Wine Lover to do? You need to decant the wine if you don’t own a decanter anything with a wide opening at the top will work for example a flower vase or large water pitcher. Pouring the wine in from eye level or above allows more air to get in contact with the wine before flowing into the decanter. The increased surface area is the key to allowing more air to make contact with your wine.

Pairings for Pinot Grigio, Pinot Grigio Rose, PicpoulDe Pinet, Albarino


Salads & Vegetables

A great match for these wines would be a feta or green salad but it would go equally well with a light seafood or tomato and mozzarella salad.

Fish & Seafood

These wines can be enjoyed with clam chowder or shellfish such as mussels, oysters, prawns and crab. They also work well with scallops, halibut, plaice or lemon sole.

Pasta & Other Sauces

A very light olive oil and fish based sauce or even fresh tomato sauce. Risotto can also pair nicely.

Meats & Poultry

Generally these wines are too light for most red meats but lightly seasoned poultry would work well.

Herbs & Spices

The delicate seasonings of chives, coriander, dill, fennel, tarragon and parsley would complement this wines.

Spicy Foods

We wouldn't recommend pairing these wines with anything spicy as the flavours would overwhelm such wines. However, sushi or light Asian cuisine can work well.

Cheeses

Very mild flavoured cheeses such as cream cheese, feta, halloumi, mozzarella, ricotta and creamed cheese would work best with these wines.

Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc

Salads & Vegetables

These wine works well with Caesar, chicken, egg, fish, ham and cheese or seafood salad. They would also work well with root vegetables such as carrots, onions and parsnips or even fruits such as peach and mango.


Fish & Seafood

Seafood such as oysters and firm white fish such as plaice and sole are good matches for this wine. You could also pair this wine with fish pies or fish cakes, smoked haddock and even salmon simply poached or with a buttery sauce.

Pasta & Other Sauces

Both Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc work well with fish based sauces or ones that are light and creamy such as hollandaise. You could also go for a nice parsley sauce or pesto base. Maybe even at a drop of wine while preparing the creamy sauce.

Meats & Poultry

These wines work well with white meats such as chicken, turkey and pork but it also suits duck and veal or even some chicken liver pate

Herbs & Spices

Both wines work with big flavours such as coriander, fennel, garlic and ginger but will also work with basil, pesto, parsley or tarragon.

Spicy Foods

Great wines to enjoy with sushi or light Indian dishes such as a Korma.

Cheeses

Perfect matches to enjoy with Brie and Camembert but also very well suited to Mozzarella and some mature Cheddars.

Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Riesling

Salads & Vegetables

These wines are best suited to fresh mixed salads with ingredients such as asparagus, avocado, tomato, green onion, olives spinach and artichokes.


Fish & Seafood

The wines work well with a variety of fish dishes from simply grilled sole or plaice to oily fish such as sardines and mackerel and even fried fish.

Pasta & Other Sauces

Tartare sauce is a great accompaniment to these wine as well as Beurre Blanc or a light cream and even fish based sauce.

Meats & Poultry

Chicken is a great match for both wines for example spicy chicken wings with a blue cheese dip however, both work equally well with pork and veal.

Herbs & Spices

Pair with chives, coriander, dill and ginger or even lemongrass and lime.

Spicy Foods

Great wines to have with Thai dishes as it works with the lime and lemongrass qualities present in this aromatic cuisine. Also pair well with Greek foods such as falafel and Mexican cuisine such as fajitas, enchiladas or even a spicy bean burger.

Cheeses

Feta and Goats cheese work well with these wines.

Rose Wines

Salads & Vegetables

Rose wines works well with the flavours of aubergine, lentils, chickpeas, beetroot and spinach and is delightful with a bowl of olives. The contrast of flavors is amazing.


Fish & Seafood

Enjoy with scallops and prawns or white grilled fish also great with clam chowder or shellfish such as mussels, oysters, prawns and crab.

Pasta & Other Sauces

A light tomato or mushroom sauce works well here as does a light olive oil based accompaniment. Makes for a great pairing with risotto.

Meats

These wines aregreat with roast or cold poultry and an array of thinly sliced meats. Generally these wines are too light for most red meats.

Herbs & Spices

Pair mint, dill or parsley as your primary herbs with this wine.

Spicy Foods

Lighter Thai or lentil-based Moroccan dishes would suit rose wine.

Cheeses

Enjoy rose wine with a selection of cheeses such as feta and halloumi, ricotta or enjoy with creamed cheese.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Carmenere, Chianti, Carignan

Salads & Vegetables

These wines work well with chargrilled and roasted vegetables as well as smoked and cured meats and mushrooms.

Fish & Seafood

A good meaty fish is best served with these wines. A lightly grilled tuna steak, lobster or salmon would go down a treat.

Pasta & Other Sauces

Best with tomato based sauces such as Bolognese or Lasagna. The wines will also go with wild mushroom risotto and truffle based sauces.

Meats

Flavourful meats such as beef, lamb, pheasant and duck are perfectly paired to these wines or try with a sausage casserole, chicken liver pate or even cured meats such as Parma ham.

Herbs & Spices

A broad range of herbs and spices such as mint, nutmeg, garlic and chives can be used to draw out the flavours of these wines.

Spicy Foods

Spanish and Italian dishes pair up nicely with these wines such as spicy Italian sauces or Spanish Chorizo dishes.

Cheeses

Delicious served with goat's cheese, Cambozola, Gouda and mature Cheddar.

Beronia, Montepulciano, Shiraz, Malbec

Salads & Vegetables

A good tapas-style dish of chorizo and spicy sausages would work well here, and grilled chicken or beef salad would work a treat.


Fish & Seafood

These wines are generally too heavy for fish and seafood.

Pasta & Other Sauces

Good matches with cream based sauces like a good white or cheese sauce found in dishes such as lasagna and carbonara.

Meats & Poultry

Best suited to rich flavoursome meats such as duck, goose and venison but would also work well with a roasted or grilled joint of beef or lamb.

Herbs & Spices

These wines can handle big flavours- black pepper, chives, cloves, garlic, coriander and chili.

Spicy Foods

Best matched to foods with a kick, such as Mexican fajitas, tacos and Indian cuisine such as a hot curry.

Cheeses

Delicious served with creamy blue cheeses, mature Cheddar or even Parmesan.

Amarone

Salads & Vegetables

This wine would work well with a Thai style beef salad or a shredded duck equivalent. It suits most barbecued and grilled meats so a Mexican dish would work well.


Fish & Seafood

This wine is generally too heavy for fish and seafood.

Pasta & Other Sauces

Rich creamy sauces, such as cheesy carbonara, work well with this wine.

Meats & Poultry

Great with flavorsome meats from duck to beef, lamb and boar.

Herbs & Spices

The strong flavours of black pepper, garlic and chives make an excellent match for this wine. It would also stand up well against mint, rosemary and thyme.

Spicy Foods

Oaky wines can be tricky to pair but paprika flavoured foods would work well with this wine.

Cheeses

This wine works well with Brie, Camembert and Edam.

Valpolicella

Salads & Vegetables

This style of wine goes best with grilled and roasted vegetables, cured and smoked meats. It is also a great companion to olives.

Fish & Seafood

A nice piece of cod, seared salmon, sea trout or tuna works well with this wine. You could even mix some pancetta in with the cod to add depth of flavour.

Pasta & Other Sauces

Perfectly matched to tomato-based dishes such as lasagna, Bolognese.

Meats & Poultry

Pair this wine with light pork dishes, roast chicken, turkey or salami to complement the characteristics of this wine.

Herbs & Spices

Create dishes using basil, coriander, garlic and nutmeg to set this wine off well. Spicy Italian sauces and Spanish chorizo dishes work well with this wine.

Cheeses

Team this wine with Cheddar, Dolcelatte, Mozzerella, Parmesan and Port-Salut.