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.