Pairing Food with Wine

Wine and food have always been paired together for centuries. This tradition has stood the test of time as wine is known to enhance flavors and the overall dining experience. However, not all wines boost flavor, and it’s important to know which types of wine work best with certain dishes.

Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a handy guide on how to pair different types of food with its most complimentary wine type.

Simple tips

Instead of listing out specific pairings, let’s start by going over some basic pairing tips that are easier to remember and far less complicated.

Spicy with sugar: If you have spicy dishes, then it’s best to pair the dish with wines that have some sugar such as a Riesling. The sugar in this wine will help ease the spiciness and create a nice balance between the dish and the wine.

If it grows together, it pairs well together: If the wine is from a particular region, then chances are it will pair together with dishes from this region. For example, pairing Spanish wine with Spanish dishes. This is because they share the same terrain and will have flavors that complement each other. Do note this is a general rule though and an Italian red won’t pair well with an Italian pasta dish. There are exceptions.

Fat goes well with Tannins: Fatty or fried foods work well with wines that have high acidity such as a Sauvignon Blanc, or Cabernet Sauvignon. This is because the tannins can help break through the fat.

Smokey dishes go well with oak: For dishes that have been grilled or charred. These dishes will pair well with any oak aged wine. Oak aged wines are known to have intense flavors and pair well with intense flavored dishes such as those that have been smoked. Pairing with grilled or charred foods helps bring out the fruit flavors in the oak wine boosting its flavor. 

The above are general guidelines that are hopefully easy to remember. However, food and wine pairing is far more complex. We’ve highlighted some specific pairings below in greater detail:

Red Wine

Full Bodied

Fuller bodied red wines such as Cabernet, Shiraz, Malbec, and Durif go great with hard cheeses and fattier cuts of meat due to their robust structure.

Medium Bodied

Medium bodied red wines such as blends of Merlot, Tempranillo, Barbera, and Sangiovese go well with slow-cooked or rustic style dishes such as Pasta, Mediterranean items, and Tapas.

Lighter Bodied

Lighter bodied red wines such as Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Nero D’Avola go well with gamey and earthy meats such as Ducks if the wine is finer in variety. For those with higher acidity, these can pair well with spicier dishes.

White Wine

Full Bodied

Full-bodied white wines such as Chardonnay, Verdelho, or Viognier have richer texture which makes them pair well with poultry, pork, rich seafood, and cheese or cream-based pastas.

Medium Bodied

Medium bodied white wines such as Arnies, Pinot G, Fiano, Vermentino, or Marsanne have a zesty acidity to them that makes it pair well with lighter flavor dishes such as Tapas, Pasta, or Salads.

Lighter Bodied & Aromatic

Lighter bodied or aromatic white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, or Riesling have high acidity which makes them great for fried food, delicate Asian dishes, raw seafood, and simple Mediterranean food.

Champagne, Sparkling, & Prosecco

Sparkling Champagne and prosecco with richer styles pair well with seafood and canapés. Lighter varieties also suit antipasto, fried foods, and fresh fruit.

Dessert & Fortified Wines

Dessert and Fortified Wines such as Botrytis, Tawny, Topaque, and Muscat wines pair well with a range of dishes. Below are some specific pairings based on the type of dessert it’s served with:

  • Botrytis goes great with cream or fruit-based desserts.
  • Tawny pairs well with Blue Cheese, Dried and Fresh Fruit, and Nuts.
  • Topaque pairs well with caramel-based desserts.

Rosé

Rosé that is dry pairs well with salads, charcuterie, and antipasto. While off-dry varieties pair well with spicy food or fruit-based dishes.