Understand the Basics to Wine Pairing

It’s no secret that a glass of wine can change its’ flavor and adapt to its’ surroundings, or that the food we eat can either drastically improve the wine that we drink or take away from its grandeur.



The secret is how can you combine the right wine with the right food. How to do so is a million dollar question, one that is not that simple to answer.


Some have tried to over simplify it by saying that white wine goes with seafood and red wine with meat. This may be a good simple guideline, however, I questioned its’ accuracy the first time I had a good glass of Valpolicella with an exquisite Salmon dish. There is a lot more involved in combining wines with dishes, it is an art that can be mastered with a little effort.


Whereas it can be a complicated process, there are a few principals that will help you to acquire a sense of combining wine with meals. If you want become a serious connoisseur there are some great books and courses that can help you out, however, the following can help you today:





Principal 1: Read the back of the bottle! This may seem obvious and overly simplistic, however, it works! It is amazing how many people don’t think about reading the vineyards suggestions that are usually found on the back of a bottle (if not on the bottle all respectable vineyards will have suggestions available). This is not an insult on your intelligence, especially if you consider that not all wines are the same. Winemaking is an art, not an exact science, therefore a wine made with the same grape in a different winery, grown in a different vineyard or from a different season will have slightly different characteristics and sometimes this may change the way it combines with certain foods. Respectable wineries put a lot into understanding the exact characteristics of their bottles and what to better combine them with, so: swallow your pride and read the back of the bottle —you will be glad you did!


Principal 2: Dry wines do not mix with sweet dishes. I prefer a good dry wine, however, an amazing bottle can be destroyed by a dish that is even slightly sweet. A salty or acidic dish will usually enhance the sweetness of the wine and bring out a full and balanced taste. Of course this means that if your dish is somewhat sweet you will enjoy a sweet wine with it.

Principal 3: Drink what you like! Don’t get so caught up in the science of wine that you forget its’ main purpose: to enjoy it. Some may be tempted to study the wine to the extent that they spend too much money on a wine that they don’t personally like, just to impress their friends by combining it with the right meal. Whereas I am all for experimentation and discovery, if you know that you don’t like a certain wine you should probably stay away from it and look for other options that are more pleasant to you.



These three principal may seem overly simplistic, however, they can give anyone an immediate edge and basis for combing the right wine with the right food. I plan on writing extensively on the subject in future blog posts.


For now if you want to know more the book below is an excellent choice that I highly recommend! It goes far and beyond the average pairing book. Click on the link below for more information:



FULL TITLE: What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea – Even Water – Based on Expert Advice from America’s Best Sommeliers.


Prepared by a James Beard Award-winning author team, “What to Drink with What You Eat” provides the most comprehensive guide to matching food and drink ever compiled–complete with practical advice from the best wine stewards and chefs in America. 70 full-color photos.


THIS BOOK WON THE FOLLOWING AWARDS: Winner of the 2007 IACP Cookbook of the Year Award —Winner of the 2007 IACP Cookbook Award for Best Book on Wine, Beer or Spirits — Winner of the 2006 Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year Award — Winner of the 2006 Gourmand World Cookbook Award – U.S. for Best Book on Matching Food and Wine



In future posts this blog will continue to examine subjects such as: Basic characteristics of specific Italian wines, cooking with wine, wine decor and wine gifts. However, all of this writing has made me thirsty… I think I will go open up a bottle of Brunello