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KnowledgeBase --> Wine Articles --> Wine Pairing
Wine Pairing

Wine Pairing

The pairing of food and wine is a topic that I feel is sometimes over complicated. There are people who stress over making sure that a dinner is not ruined by serving a wine that does not pair well with the dinner. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the people who typically serve their favorite wine or whatever wine they are in the mood for that day without regard to the type of food. In my opinion the truth lays somewhere in between. By this I mean that while certainly the pairing of a wine with food can affect the flavors and enjoyment of both, there are an equal number of pairings that can have little affect on each other. As an extreme example, a very strong oily fish may not be affected by any wine you pair it with. In general there seems, to me, to be a very limited number of pairings that are truly excellent, just as there are very few pairings that will ruin a meal.

Generally, the weight and structure of the wine are more pertinent to pairing with food than the actual flavor of the wine. Pairing is more about complimenting tastes rather than contrasting them. You would not typically pair a very full bodied tannic red with a light chicken dish. This would create a pairing where the flavor and strength of the wine would much overpower that of the food. At the same time a medium bodied, medium tannic, and medium oaked wine will pair with a lot more foods than a wine that is further to the extremes on those same characteristics.

Rules of Thumb

  • A heavier tannic wine will pair well with a fatty dish. The tannins will cut through the fat.
  • Acidic wines (i.e. Sauvignon Blanc) will pair well with cream based or cheese based dishes as well as deep fried dishes.
  • Keep in mind what you are trying to show case at your dinner. If it is a very complex wine that you have been aging for a long time, then pair it with a simple food so that the focus is on the wine.

Varietal Suggestions:


Red:


Cabernet
  Sauces
    Tomato-based red sauces
    Brown sauces
  Food
    Red meat
    Beef
    Lamb
    Wild game
    Pork
    Duck
    Hamburgers
    Tuna
    Strong cheese
    Gorgonzola cheese
    Cheddar cheese

Chianti
  Sauces
    Well-seasoned sauces, primarily red
    Cream or oil based sauces
  Food
    Italian food
    Pasta
    Pizza
    Parmesan dishes

Merlot
  Sauces
    Tomato-based red sauces
    Béarnaise sauce
  Food
    Roasted poultry
    Casseroles
    Grilled meat
    Lamb
    Venison
    Swordfish
    Pasta
    Parmesan Cheese
    Romano Cheese

Pinot Noir
  Sauces
    Light-medium tomato-based red sauces
    Cream or oil based sauces
  Food
    Salmon
    Meat
    Poultry
    Roast beef
    Pork
    Veal
    Lamb
    Game
    Duck
    Grilled seafood
    Sausage
    Pasta
    Mild cheese
    Goat cheese
    Brie

Sangiovese
  Sauces
    Spicy sauces, primarily red
    Cream or oil based sauces
  Food
    Italian dishes

Zinfandel
  Sauces
    Thick, tomato-based red sauces
    Salsa
  Food
    Italian food
    Spicy stews
    Chili
    Lamb
    Mexican food
    Pasta
    Pizza
    Strong cheese
    Brie
    Pork
    Spicy sausage
    Duck
    Cajun food

Syrah
  Sauces
    BBQ Sauce
    Heavy Red Sauce
  Food
    Grilled meats
    Poultry
    Beef
    Stews
    Chili
    Duck
    Lamb
    Goose
    Roast game
    Pepperoni
    Strong cheese
    Sharp cheddar
    Roquefort Cheese

White:


Chardonnay
  Sauces
    Light, tomato-based red sauce,
    Cream or oil based sauces
  Food
    Seafood
    Poultry
    Ham
    Chinese food
    Sandwiches
    Lobster
    Fish
    Seafood
    Shellfish
    Shrimp
    Pasta
    Vegetables
    Veal
    Pork
    Mild cheese
    Asiago Cheese
    Havarti Cheese

Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris
  Sauces
    Light, tomato-based red sauce
    Cream or oil based sauces
  Food
    Lighter seafood
    Chicken
    Pasta dishes
    Sandwiches
    Fish
    Lobster
    Pizza
    Veal
    Poultry
    Mild cheese

Riesling
  Sauces
    Cream or oil based sauces
    Pesto sauces
  Food
    Spicy foods
    Fruit salad
    Chicken
    Pork
    Fish
    Chinese food
    Shellfish
    Sushi/Sashimi
    Rabbit
    Fruity desserts
    Smoked sausage
    Duck
    Mild and soft cheese
    Havarti Cheese
    Gouda Cheese

Sauvignon Blanc / Fume Blanc
  Sauces
    Cream or oil based sauces
  Food
    Lighter seafood
    Chicken
    Pasta dishes
    Salad
    Fish
    Seafood
    Shellfish
    Oysters
    Scallops
    Ham
    Mexican food
    Strong cheeses
    Feta cheese
    Goat cheese

Gewurztraminer
  Sauces
    BBQ
  Food
    Poultry
    Fish
    Thai food
    Mild cheese
    Desserts

Champagne
  Food
    Fish
    Lobster
    Desserts




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