Your cheat sheet for food and wine pairings
The best days are spent indulging in a shared bottle of red next to an overflowing plate of charcuterie and canapés.
There’s nothing better than discovering flavourful, mouthwatering, perfect-match food and wine pairings, but how do you know what goes with what?
This is your cheat sheet for food and wine pairings so you can get it right every time.
What does wine pair well with?
Here’s the best part: wine pairs with everything. It’s up to you to discover the pairings you love, but there are some common ones that will get you started.
There are two main ways to experiment: with congruent and complementary flavours.
Congruent pairings mean flavour compounds and aromas are similar, and when paired together, these flavours are amplified to become overwhelmingly good.
Complementary pairings mean, literally, the opposite: you create balance with contrasting tastes and flavours, which often creates unexpected new flavours that work deliciously well.
As the wine pairing possibilities are limitless, peek at this post for some of our favourite pairing ideas.
What are the basic rules when pairing food and wine?
Sip on these eight simple rules for pairing food and wine, and don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment.
The first step is understanding your wine: its sweetness, acidity, dryness, tannins, body, viscosity, and more. Head here for a beginner’s guide, or learn even more with everything you need to know about wine.
The wine should be more acidic than the food
For example, a salad dressed in balsamic vinaigrette has high acidity, while a creamy carbonara pasta likely has low acidity. White, rosé and sparkling wines typically have more acidity, so choose these for a powerfully flavoured meal.
The wine should be sweeter than the food
This is why ultra-sweet wines like Moscato are paired with decadent cakes; no matter how sweet or bitter the meal may be, the wine pairing should be sweeter.
The wine should have the same flavour intensity as the food
For example, a Cabernet Sauvignon is more full-bodied with high tannin and bitterness, giving it a more intense flavour. This wine would be well-paired with powerful food flavours like garlic, rosemary and mint — or a sharp, bold cheese.
A classic rule is to pair red wine with bold-flavoured meats — typically red meat. On the other hand, white wines pair best with lighter-intensity meats, such as fish or chicken. An easy way to tell? Red meat pairs with red wine, and white meat with white wine (we weren’t lying when we said it’s a cheat sheet).
Bitter wines can be balanced with fat. This is why the previously noted Cabernet Sauvignon and fillet mignon pairing works so well. The bitter tannins cut through the fat to create a beautifully smooth bite.
Sommelier wisdom tells us it’s better to match wine with the sauce than the meat. If you have a hearty red lamb chop on your plate — but it’s covered in a creamy white sauce — keep the mild, creamy flavours in mind as you pick your pair.
Here’s another one for the cheatsheet: white, sparkling and rosé wines almost always create a complementary pairing rather than a congruent one. Red wines are much more likely to create congruent pairings.
The good news about pairing food and wine? You really can’t go wrong. While some pairings come together better than others, good wine paired with a great meal is guaranteed to impress your guests. Dive into the world of wine, pair it with your foodie favourites, and discover a whole new world of flavours — we’ll be here to recommend your next bottle.