Food and Wine Pairing Tips

In the world of culinary arts, one of the major keys to success has to do with knowing how to pair food and wine.

This is a serious matter that is never taken lightly, and that is why high-end hotels, eateries or restaurants hire sommeliers.

This is a wine steward who is primarily responsible for storing, ordering, and serving wine. Their second job is to understand and create the best combinations for their numerous customers via tasting.

If you have a keen taste bud, a good meal can be ruined if the combination of food and wine is incorrect.

Although a sommelier or chef may be knowledgeable about food and wine combinations, it is not an easy feat for the average person.

Therefore, here are some tips that you should follow if you find it a bit daunting to combine food and wine:

1- The wine should not overpower the food and vice versa. The best solution is to find a balance.

2- You should not pair strong flavours with delicate. Follow this basic mantra: white wine should go with white meat, (e.g chicken and fish) and red wine should go with red meat such as beef. Following these rules will help you to avoid combining a delicate taste with a strong taste.

3- Foods with high elements of fat – e.g. dairy or red meat, pairs well with tannins (an acid present in wines). If you need to add a sense of freshness to food, you should pair it with wine that has well-balanced acidity. Always make sure that the acid levels of the wine match well with the acid levels of the dish.

4- If your meal has a high sugar content, it could make the wine taste more acidic and bitter, thus losing its tangy flavours. In this instance, you should go for a wine that has as much sugar as the dish or a higher level of sweetness (e.g fortified wine). Doing this will make the flavours of both the meal and the wine to complement each other perfectly. For instance, Sauternes is a sweet wine with an excellent level of acidity and it matches rich foods like foie gras, etc.

5- Alcoholic wines tend to exaggerate the taste of salt and overpower delicate aromas in food. Therefore, follow this rule of thumb: take wines with high alcohol content with dishes low in salt. The most food-friendly wines are those with low alcohol content as they are easiest to pair with most foods.

6- Wines should have the same intensity of flavours as the foods.

7- It is much better to match the wine with the sauce than with meat - for example, Pinot Noir tastes great with mushroom sauce.

8- At times, culture and tradition play significant roles when it comes to pairing foods and wines. This is why Italian wines go well with Italian foods. There is no well-found explanation for this, but then it may be that the food, as well as the drink, have developed an affinity to one another over time.

9- The guidelines stipulated above are somewhat sacred rules to follow for people who love to enjoy their meals. However, almost anything goes in this day and age. At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide on the best pairings that suit your taste buds.

10- Be careful when pairing wine with spices - spices can clash with the wine’s natural flavours and destroy them. Pairing wine with Chinese or Indian food can be particularly difficult due to the high amount of spices. However, wines made in a Germanic style often pair better with Asian foods.

11- Don’t worry if you make a mistake! If you realise that your food doesn’t pair well with the wine you’ve chosen, then you can learn from your mistakes. After all, you can be adventurous with food and wine pairings!

12- Click here for some BBQ food pairing ideas!

13- Wine is always best stored in a wine cooler for serving. Wine coolers store your wine at the right temperature for serving while protecting your wine from sunlight (which can ruin your wine). You can also store your wine in a wine cooler in the long term for ageing or investing. 

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