Do you ever feel lost when trying to figure out what food goes with what wine? You’re not alone. While most people have heard of basic tips, such as red wine with red meat and white wine with fish, you can enjoy your food and wine much more by learning a few basic tips about pairing. Check out the 10 best tips to pair your food with an ideal wine.
When you aren’t sure what wine to choose with hors d’oeuvres, opt for a dry rosé, which goes well with a diverse hors d’oeuvres menu, given that it has both the lightness of white wines and the fruit flavors of red wines.
When choosing a wine to go with red meat, search for something rich in tannins, a substance that give wine its dryness and bitterness. You might opt for a California Bordeaux or Cabernet, which have strong tannins that go well with lamb chops or steak.
While tannic wines pair nicely with red meats, you should avoid them when serving fish. Instead, you might choose a white wine such as a Chardonnay, which pairs well with fatty fish, or any fish you plan to serve with a rich sauce.
Tangy or acidic foods
When serving a tangy or acidic food, such as scallops or a salad with vinaigrette, you might choose a Sauvignon Blanc, a Sangiovese, or a Verdejo from Spain. In general, these acidic wines tend to go well with high-acid foods.
Finding the right wine for a given cheese can be tricky, as some cheeses are complemented by red wine, while others pair better with white. To be safe, you could serve a rosé, which tends to pair nicely with most cheeses. In addition, keep in mind that cheeses from a certain region often complement wines from that region. Beyond these general rules, there are certain wines that match specific categories of cheese, as follows:
For aged cheeses, such as Manchego, Asiago, or Parmigiano, try serving them with a bold red wine. Aged cheeses contain less water and have a higher fat content, which offsets the tannins in a bold red wine.
You might be wondering what kind of wine could possibly balance a strong, pungent cheese, such as a blue-veined or bloomy, funky-sweet cheese. To pair with these selections, look for a sweet wine, such as a Port, which balances out the cheese’s strong smell and gives it a creamier feel.
For cheeses with a creamy texture, such as Camembert or Brie, try serving a sparkling wine with high carbonation and acidity. Wines such as Champagne and Cava serve to reset the palate after each bite of creamy cheese.
If you plan to prepare a dish that calls for lemon or lime, search for an unoaked white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Vermentino. These white wines feature an acidity that brings out the citrus flavors of dishes with lemon or lime.
When serving a dish with a kick to it, such as curry, look for a wine with a low alcohol content, as alcohol tends to make these foods taste even hotter. A German Riesling is a valid option, as the sweetness can cut the spicy flavor if the food is too hot for some guests.
While you may be adept at choosing a wine for a flavorful red meat, other meats, such as chicken or pork, have a more subtle taste. For these meats, it can be the sauce that gives the dish its main flavor. With that in mind, aim to match the wine with the sauce you plan to serve alongside the meat.
If you like to lather your grilled meats with barbecue sauce, you might treat your guests to a Malbec from Argentina or a Côtes-du-Rhône from France. These red wines are strong enough not to be overpowered by spicy barbecue sauces.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, some sweet foods pair well with sweet wines. For example, you might serve a chocolate fudge cake with a sweet Port—the classic after-dinner wine. However, if you serve a dessert with fruit in it, you might opt for a semi-sweet sparkling wine, such as a Moscato d’Asti or an Asti Spumante. These wines bring out the fruit flavors rather than the sugar in your dessert.
With these 10 food and wine pairing tips, you’re well on your way to making good choices the next time you host a dinner party. For more specific tips, you might check with the producer of a certain wine, or research the types of foods that pair well with grape varieties from specific regions. In addition, remember that some of your guests might not know about pairing, so don’t be overly concerned about finding the perfect match. With a little research and experience, you can find a wine that adequately matches your menu every time.