Wine and Food Pairing Made Easy

By Lauryn Shabanowitz; Certified Sommelier and Owner of A Crushed Grape- Denver
Posted

How to pair the right wine with your meal can be a challenging task. With so many wines out there, one can get very confused. However, fear no more! There are a few basic steps you need to take in order to pair the right wines with your meal.

Food should always be paired with wine, and not the other way around. It is very easy to find a wine to match your food, but finding a food to match your wine is very difficult. The goal should be to find a wine that doesn’t overshadow the food, but compliments it.

The main part of the dish should be paired with the wine. For example, if you are serving a beef roast with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans, you will want to pair the wine to the roast itself. Additionally, you need to pay attention to the types of spices and sauces that are in the dish. A spicy rub will have a different wine pairing than a cream sauce.

For foods high in fat, (i.e. lobster bisque), you should find wines that will help cut or match the intensity of the food. Wines that are high in acidity, (Sauviginon Blanc), high in tannins, (Cabernet Sauvignon), or rich and buttery, (Oaked Chardonnay), will be the best pairings for this type of food.

For foods that are highly acidic (i.e. spring salad with balsamic vinaigrette), you will want to find wines that are also highly acidic. If a wine’s acidity cannot match that of the food, it will make the food and the wine taste completely wrong.

Salty foods pair best with sweeter wines and sparkling wines. The sweetness of a riesling will pair nicely with chips and dip, while fried chicken will go really well with a sparkling white wine.

Desserts, or foods that are very sweet, should only be paired with wines that can stand up to that sweetness. That means that the wine must be sweeter than the food, or else the wine will lose all of its flavors.

On the other hand, if the wine overpowers the food, then serve the wine by itself. My favorite pairing is a bittersweet dark chocolate bar with a Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins from the wine help balance out the bitterness of the chocolate, while the fruit flavors of the wine help bring out the sweetness of the chocolate.

The bottom line is that every person’s palate is different. You may find a certain food and wine pairing to be fantastic, while another person is completely opposed to it. The goal is to have a broad understanding of which types of wines pair best with your food.

Before you know it, you will be the go-to person for picking wines at any meal!