Wine Pairing Tips for Beginners
While you can enjoy wine on its own, there’s no doubt that food and wine go hand in hand. The right wine can enhance the flavors of the right dish and vice versa, making the dining experience unforgettable. How do you know which bottle goes with which food? The tips below will help you make great pairings.
Food and Wine Pairing Basics
Great pairings balance the taste characteristics of the food and wine, instead of one dominating the other. The first thing to remember is that there are no hard and fast rules. Learn the basics but feel free to experiment. Discover the combinations that give you pleasure.
Don’t be discouraged if you have a limited wine budget. You can find various wines in different price ranges suitable for your table.
Here are some things to consider when pairing food with wine.
Choose Food and Wine That You Like
This may seem obvious, but it’s good to be reminded of it. If you’ve heard that the rule is fish and white wine, but you don’t like white wine, don’t worry about deviating from the traditional pairing. Many excellent red wines pair superbly with fish or seafood dishes.
We can always recommend the best food pairings for our organic Italian wines at Yours Truly Wine. By joining our club, you will receive 6 bottles of either red, white, or 3 of each delivered to your door every 3 months. This allows you the unique opportunity of trying different wines you might not otherwise try. Join Today!
Determine the Taste Experience You Want to Evoke
There are two approaches to pairing wine with your meal. First, are you looking to enhance similar flavors? This approach is called congruent pairing. For example, enjoying a lemony dish with a Falerio, which has acid notes, amplifies the citrus flavors in both.
Or you might want to contrast flavors, like combining a salty blue cheese with a sweet Moscato d’Asti. This complementary pairing aims to balance flavors in a pleasing harmony.
Depending on the flavors you want to heighten, apply congruent pairing or complementary pairing to create the perfect match.
Mix and Match Your Flavors
- Flavor Profiles
Since we’re talking about flavors, it’s essential to define the prominent flavor of the plate. Most food falls into one of the six primary profiles:
- Piquant (spiciness)
Wines are usually categorized as acidic, bitter, or sweet:
- Red wines present more bitter notes.
- White and rosé wines are mainly acidic.
- Sweet wines offer particularly sweet flavors.
You usually can’t go wrong matching similar flavors. But if you’re a fan of contrasts, try a sweet-salty combination or an acidic wine with a fatty dish.
Generally, combinations of bitter-spicy, bitter-acid, bitter-salty or acid-spicy are not recommended, as these may over-enhance the bitterness of the wine or the spiciness of the food.
- Weight, Intensity, Acidity
When we talk about ”weight” in wine pairing, we mean the richness of a dish or wine. Heavy dishes tend to be rich in fat or cream. We usually match the weight of the wine and the food—delicate meats with delicate wines, red meats with full-bodied wine. Thus the often-heard “white wines go with white meat, red wines with red meat”. But lighter red wines can also go well with fattier fish such as salmon.
It’s also best to match the intensity of the flavors so that the food or wine doesn’t outdo the other. Spicy food can be enhanced by a wine with sweet-spicy notes. The bitter notes of a bold red wine will cut through the taste of sauce-drenched meat dishes, while such richness will temper the bitterness.
A high-acid wine, likewise, goes well with acidic dishes such as a salad with vinaigrette. But it also balances fat such as in fried or buttery dishes.
- Sauces and Spices
Spices and sauces can make or break your pairing, so pay attention to these over simply following the usual rule of white meats with white wine and red meats with red. A lemon butter seafood dish matches perfectly with a full-bodied white wine, while a seafood paella can pair exquisitely with a light-bodied red wine.
Also Read: Can You Drink Wine During a Keto Diet?
Food and Wine Pairing Examples
Here are some delicious dishes and their wine pairing recommendations:
- Fiori di Zucca Ripieni (Stuffed Squash Blossoms) with the bubbly Centanni Passerina Charmat Brut
- Pollo alla Milanese (Chicken Milanese) and Valente Emozione No. 1, a 100% Montonico wine from Abruzzo
- Focaccia di Olive (Olive Focaccia) and Capitoni Orcia Riserva from Tuscany
- Risotto ai Carciofi | Artichoke Risotto with Madrevite ‘Elve’ Trasimeno Grechetto from Umbria
- Salame al Cioccolato (Chocolate Salami) with a 100% Sangiovese red wine like Sesterzo from Poggio Grande located in the Val d’Orcia area in Tuscany
Enjoy these and other excellent food and wine pairings by joining our Yours Truly Wine Club today.