I wrote this article on wine and food pairing nine years ago but thought it was still a great one to share. I love the suggestions of experts like Karen MacNeil and Tim Hanni, who say that we really need to mellow out when it comes to wine and food pairing, that it’s rare that you get an awful pairing, and if you do, it’s a good excuse to laugh and find something else.
I find that a lot of people seriously stress out when it comes to trying to come up with perfect pairings. It’s helpful to keep in mind that most pairings will be good to quite good.
The reality is that if you like a certain wine and a particular food, you will probably like the two together. It’s hard to go wrong when you’re combining two taste experiences you really like. Be adventurous when pairing wine and food!
If you want some suggestions, here are Karen MacNeil’s from her book The Wine Bible:
- Pair great with great and humble with humble. A tuna sandwich doesn’t require an expensive Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Match delicate to delicate and robust to robust. A delicate wine will get lost with a dramatic dish.
- Decide if you want to mirror a given flavor or set up a contrast. Both work. Chardonnay with lobster in cream sauce is an example of mirroring. Sparkling wine with the same dish is an example of a contrast.
- Whites that are the safest pairing bets – Sauvignon Blanc and a dry Riesling.
- Reds that are the safest pairing bets – Chianti (Sangiovese), Pinot Noir, or Zinfandel.
- Pair dishes containing fruit with fruit-forward wines such as Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Viognier, Riesling and Dolcetto.
- Pair salty food with an acidic or sweet wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Riesling.
- Pair high-fat food with an equally rich, intense, structured and concentrated wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Pair your dessert with a wine that is sweeter than the dessert. Otherwise, the wine will taste dull.
I’d love to hear about some of your favorite pairings! Cheers!
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