How to Pair Wine With Food Like a Sommelier
When learning to pair food with wine, it’s unnecessary to stick to rigid rules. At the end of the day, what you like matters more than an arbitrary rule-maker’s idea of what you should do. However, there are a few loose rules that help find wines that complement certain foods.
Stick to the Basics
Wine pairing should be simple. Try these suggestions for pairing food and wine:
- Only select wines you like to drink. If you don’t like dry wine, choose a sweet one and vice versa.
- Don’t forget to be adventurous. Choosing the same wine every time can put you in a rut.
- Balance your food and wine by comparing their body and richness and making them equal. One shouldn’t overpower the other.
- Match wines to the strongest elements on the plate. That’s usually meat, but it can also be acidic, savory, rich, or bright flavors.
What to Look For in Wine
There are a few clues to look for in wine that tell you things you need to know about their flavor.
- Fruitiness and sweetness make wines feel soft.
- Acidity and tannins make wine feel crisp and dry.
- Alcohol feels soft in low amounts and crisp in high amounts.
- Red wines are high in tannins, making them bold and crisp. Some white wines have tannins too, but it’s rare.
- The bouquet of red and white wines is similar, but white wines have lighter, brighter fruit flavors and reds have heavier, darker fruit flavors.
Specific Suggestions for Wine Pairings
Rich, hearty meals with flavorful spices need robust and flavorful wines. Cabernet Sauvignon complements rabbit stew, beefy tomato dishes, and lamb chops. Crisp white wine like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc pairs with fish and chicken dishes.
Dessert wines are ideal with dessert dishes. White sauces tend to be rich, and they pair well with Burgundy Chardonnay, German Riesling, or Malbec. Salads and bread are flexible, and you can choose a nice Riesling or Chardonnay if you have a rich salad dressing. Go with something lighter and sweeter like Soave or Pinot Blanc if the salad is light and bright.