The Basics of Pairing Wine with Food

The basic concept of pairing wine and food is to compliment and enhance the aroma and flavors of both the food and wine. Reds with heavier meals, whites for lighter meals, red wine with red meat, and white wine with white meat. Although these can be used as general guidelines for pairing wine with food, there is only one rule - choose a wine you know and like.

Wine before food should be low in acidity, preventing the wine from interfering with the taste of the coming meal. If choosing a red wine, mask some of the acidity by serving a little cooler than normal. If choosing white wine, serve a little warmer than normal revealing the character of the wine.

As they are not traditionally consumed with food, sparkling wines make a perfect start to an evening of good conversation and dining. Sweet wine after the meal compliments most desserts. Also keep in mind that serving a heavy wine after your meal may make your guests feel unpleasantly full.

Light-Bodied and Full-Bodied

Another concept of pairing wine with food is selecting a "light-bodied" wine with lighter food and a "full-bodied" wine with heartier, flavorful dishes. So which wines are considered "light-bodied" and which wines are considered "full-bodied"?

The following general selection of white and rosé wine varietals are listed from lightest to fullest-bodied: White Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Fumé Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Sémillon, Viognier and Chardonnay.

The following general selection of red wine varietals are listed from lightest to fullest-bodied: Gamay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.

Champagne and Sparkling Wines

Only Sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne. Sparkling wines lend an air of celebration, are the perfect aperitif (appetizer/before dinner cocktail), and can be paired safely with almost every menu as a table wine.

General Pairing Suggestions

  Red White Rosé Sparkling
Appetizers Chenin Blanc
Riesling
Sauvignon Blanc
White Grenache
White Zinfandel
Blanc de Noir
Brut
Extra Dry
Spumante
Champagne
BBQ & Marinated Poultry Zinfandel
Petit Sirah
Beaujolais
Beef Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Zinfandel

Caviar Pinot Blanc Blanc de Noir
Brut
Extra Dry
Spumante
Champagne
Cheese (Mild) Chenin Blanc
Gewürztraminer
Riesling
Sauvignon Blanc
Semillon
White Grenache
White Zinfandel
Blanc de Noir
Brut
Extra Dry
Spumante
Champagne
Cheese (Strong) Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Pino Noir
Zinfandel
Chardonnay Blanc de Noir
Brut
Extra Dry
Champagne
Desserts Gewürztraminer
Riesling

White Zinfandel Spumante
Game Birds/Veal Beaujolais
Merlot
Zinfandel

Ham Beaujolais
Zinfandel
Pinot Noir

Gewürztraminer
Riesling
Chenin Blanc

White Zinfandel
Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Pinot Noir
Zinfandel
White Zinfandel
Pasta Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Zinfandel
Sauvignon Blanc
Chablis
Pinot Grigio
Riesling
Pork Pinot Noir
Zinfandel

Chardonnay
Gewürztraminer
White Grenache
Poultry Pinot Noir
Burgandy
Chardonnay
Chenin Blanc
Riesling
Sauvignon Blanc
White Zinfandel
Seafood (Heavy) Merlot
Pinot Noir
Burgandy
Chardonnay
Semillon
White Grenache
White Zinfandel
Seafood (Light) Chardonnay
Gewürztraminer
Sauvignon Blanc
White Grenache
White Zinfandel
Shellfood Chardonnay
Chenin Blanc
Riesling
Sauvignon Blanc
Semillon
Chablis
Extra Dry
Smoked, Marinated or BBQ Beef Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Zinfandel
Tomato & Highly Seasoned Sauces Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Zinfandel

The Basics of Pairing Wine with Food Reviews

the basics of pairing wine with food

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"I don't know anything about wine, so when I had to serve it for a gathering I was at loss on what type of wine to serve with the meal. This article helped me very much. Thank you, Recipe Tips!"
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