An ultimate culinary combo, pairing wine with food has been around for centuries. There’s no doubt a glass of wine with dinner can elevate your dining experience, but how can you nail this art of finding the perfect pairing?

Read on to discover everything you need to know about pairing food with wine, from the best dishes to eat with a Sauvignon Blanc to the top two methods of pairing. 

How to Pair Wine With Food

For all foodies—and even casual wine drinkers—pairing a nice glass of wine with a delicious plate of food can be the combination that sends your taste buds into orbit. But how do you do it? There are general rules of thumb and more nuanced ones as well. Let’s start with some basics:


Choose a Wine That you Like

It’s important that you pair your food with a wine that you’ll actually like. If you usually don’t do white wines, you probably won’t like a glass of it with food. Stick to what you enjoy and branch out from there.

 

Balance it Out

Wine and food need to balance each other out, with neither one overwhelming the taste of the other. This doesn’t mean doing opposite pairings—rather,  pair equal flavors to create a good balance. Think a bold red wine with a hearty plate of lamb or a light-bodied white wine with grilled fish for a delectable, delicate experience. Sometimes, opposite flavors can work together, like a sweet Riesling with fried rice.

 

Pair Wine with the Main Flavor

When doing wine pairings, match the wine to the most prominent element of the dish. This could be the seasonings, sauce, or the main ingredient. For instance, chicken in a sauce with mushrooms has an earthier, richer flavor—so it’ll need red wine, but grilled chicken with a creamy lemon sauce would pair well with a white. That’s why most wine connoisseurs recommend pairing wine with the sauce of the dish instead of the meat. 

 

6 Flavor Profiles To Consider When Pairing Wine

You got the basics down, but now comes the more nuanced part. When it comes to food and wine, there are six main flavor profiles to keep in mind:

  • Acidic
  • Fatty
  • Bitter
  • Salty
  • Sweet
  • Alcohol

Each profile can be mixed and matched with another to create excellent wine pairing combos. For example, you can try a bitter, tannic wine with sweet food or to cut through fatty dishes. These flavor profiles & wine pairings will come in handy for dinner, special celebrations, or around the holidays.

Quick Wine Facts:

Red wines have more bitterness.

White and Rosé wines have more acidity.

Sweet wines have mostly sweet notes.

Graphic showing Wine Pairing Flavor Profiles

Methods of Wine Pairing

Here are the two methods of pairing wine and food: 

Congruent

A congruent pairing is when you pair two similar flavors together that amplify each other and create a good balance—like Chardonnay and creamy mac and cheese. 

Contrasting

Also called a complementary pairing, a contrasting pairing is when one flavor cuts through and balances out the richness of the other. Mac and cheese can work great with Chardonnay for an overall creamy, rich experience, but mac and cheese can also go great with a sharper Pinot Grigio.

 


What Makes a Good Wine Pairing: 10 Pairings You’ll Love

So, what makes a good wine pairing? Consider this your cheat sheet, or your wine pairing guide. It’s tough to remember what goes with what—especially because there are dozens of wine types out there—so here are some tried and true pairings:

1. Chardonnay + Fish

Dry, medium-bodied Chardonnays pair great with light meats like fish and other seafood in flavorful sauces. 

2. Cabernet + Red Meat

As mentioned before, a rich wine needs a rich dish. That’s why Cabernet and red meat pair so well together.

3. Pinot Noir + Earthy Flavors

Pair a deep Pinot Noir with earthy, savory flavors like mushroom dishes or hearty pizzas.

4. Pinot Grigio + Seafood

Pinot Grigio and light seafood dishes work perfectly together because of their light, delicate flavors. 

5. Sauvignon Blanc + Tart Flavors

Sip a piquant Sauvignon Blanc and pair it with a tart dressing or sauce for a flavorful zing.

6. Rosé + Cheesy Dishes

When it comes to cheese, Rosé is your go-to because it has the acidity of white wine while still maintaining the fruity notes of red.  

7. Sparkling + Salty Flavors

Sparkling wines usually have notes of sweetness in them, perfect for complementing salty foods. 

8. Riesling + Sweet, Spicy Flavors

Lightly sweet, many Rieslings help balance spicy dishes while complementing sweetness as well. 

9. Syrah + Spiced Dishes

For heavily spiced dishes, choose Syrah to help finish out the flavor of your dish. 

10. Zinfandel + Rich Plates

The richness of Zinfandel complements the richness of foods like pâtés, mousses, and terrines. 

A good rule of thumb is to pair red wines with red meats and fatty, hearty dishes. White wines are best with lighter flavors, perfect for fish and poultry. But no matter the wine your dish needs, make sure you check out The Wine Cellar Group’s large selection of premium wines. 


Find Your Wine at a Wine Cellar Outlet Near You!

From deep, earthy  Pinot Noir to light, fragrant Sparklings, The Wine Cellar Group has the perfect wine for your food. Whether you shop online or in-store at a Wine Cellar location near you, you’ll be pleased to find a wide selection of wines ready for purchase or to gift! When you’re looking for a specific wine, or need recommendations on wine pairings, our knowledgeable staff is ready to help you make the perfect decision. Contact your nearest Wine Cellar Outlet by phone with any questions, visit us in-store, or shop online today!

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