If you love both wine and food, then you know that finding the perfect pairing enhances each one. The right wine brings out the best flavors in your dishes.
Dinner is ready, and your guests eagerly await—which bottle of wine will you serve? A chilled white or a room-temperature red? Even an experienced wine connoisseur may question which wine is best for a meal. Still, with a little knowledge and practice, you’ll know what type is likely to be the best choice. If you’d like to understand how to properly pair your wine with food, follow along as we discuss reds and whites and what foods go best with each.
What To Consider When Wine Pairing
Wine pairing is important because wine and food balance each other during a meal. Think of it as both the wine and the food you’re eating having similar personalities. A heavy dish with robust flavor pairs well with a full-bodied wine, and a light meal needs a light wine. When it comes to people, opposites attract; however, wine and food prefer to have a lot in common.
By now, you’ve likely heard that wine has many health benefits, including high levels of antioxidants—specifically, resveratrol. That’s fantastic news, and for red wine lovers, it’s even better since reds have the highest levels of resveratrol. The reason is that when fermenting red wine, the grape skins stay intact. Meanwhile, the white wine process requires the removal of the skins. The skin also lends to the richer color.
So, what should you pair red wine with? Thanks to its boldness and rich flavor, there are many foods that pair best with reds, including
- Dark chocolate
- Gruyere, cheddar, feta, pecorino, parmesan
- Earthy dishes (mushroom sauces)
- Pasta with red sauce
There are several varieties of red wines, but the popular ones you often see are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Malbec. Common notes the palate observes when enjoying red wine are spicy, dark fruits, pepper, vanilla, earthy, and floral. Choose yours according to the intensity of the main dish. If it’s spicy, pick a sweeter red to calm the heat. A hearty steak needs a strong partner, such as a Cabernet.
White wine comes in many light, golden shades, and the varieties that may pop into your head are likely Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Reisling. White wine has several flavor profiles, and most notes are citrus, pear, apple, honey, herbs, and floral.
Since white wine has a lighter profile than red, it will pair well with lighter dishes. White wine and the following foods enhance each other’s flavors:
- Freshwater fish
- Tart desserts
- Pasta with cream sauces
- Grilled veggies
- Goat cheese, Gouda, Brie
Food pairings are endless, and just as with most food and wine, it’s always best to choose pairings you enjoy, even if you don’t often see them together. We all have our own palate and tastes. Still, using these basics as a guideline will help when choosing the right food and wine pairings.