A Guide for Matching Food and Wine
If you like your everyday red or white wine, don’t worry about trying to match the food you are eating with that particular wine. What matters most is that you like how your wine tastes.
Now, for that good, really good, or special bottle of wine: These wines deserve more consideration in pairing with food. A good bottle of wine is more complex with flavors and the right food match will complement those wine flavors. You certainly do not want to have a food mismatch. Example: A Cabernet Sauvignon would overpower a light and delicately prepared fish. But, a nice Sauvignon Blanc goes very well with a light fish. A barbequed steak goes perfectly with a Cabernet Sauvignon but a Sauvignon Blanc would be too light.
One standard rule to live by is that light foods go with light wines. Heavy foods go with heavy wines. I’ll mention that one again because it’s a good standard to remember. Light foods with light wines and heavy foods with heavy wines. Here is a list to get you started.
Sauvignon Blanc – white or light fish, mild cheese, fruit
Chardonnay – grilled chicken, salmon, shellfish, and grilled fish, anything with a cream sauce.
Pinot Noir – light meats, chicken, grilled anything, salmon.
Merlot – pasta, red meat, duck, smoked or grilled foods
Zinfandel – tomato pasta dishes, pizza, pesto, red meats, chicken with heavy sauces
Cabernet Sauvignon – red meats, especially a juicy barbequed steak, grilled and smoked foods.
Syrah – red meats, spicy pizzas, herbed sauces on red meat, turkey
Ideas for Learning How to Match Food and Wine
Experiment with two or more wines
Cook up a great entrée and open a couple of bottles or more of wine that follow the rules above. Taste each wine without the food. Taste the food without the wine. Taste one wine and then the food. Taste the other wine, then the food. Does one wine match better with the food? This is really fun to do with friends and discuss what each likes.
Plan a meal around a special bottle of wine
Do you have a special bottle of wine you want to open? If so, invite some friends over and plan a special meal around the wine. There is nothing better then sharing a great bottle of wine with friends. Take this opportunity to showing off your cooking skills at the same time.
Go to Restaurant that has a food and wine recommendation menu
Many restaurants are now offering a menu that not only shows you the food, but also what wines will work with that dish. This is a good way to start to learn about what food matches which wine. Have fun with it, but be careful, you might actually learn a thing or two.