Pairing wine with food can seem like an overwhelming venture, though rest assured that finding the perfect bottle for your next meal really isn’t as hard as it seems. While many tend to overthink the notion, the beauty of pairing wine and food is that the “best” bottle options are actually pretty much endless – it’s simply a matter of following a few basic guidelines.
While we’re all about drinking what you love, it’s scientifically true that certain wines pair better with particular dishes. Curious to learn more? Follow the six guidelines below to become a food and wine pairing expert in no time.
Know the Basic Components
Understanding the foundation of food and wine pairing starts with knowing the basic components of what makes up each factor. In wine, the two main things to think about when pairing with food are acid and tannin. With food, salt and fat are the two main focuses.
Salt and Acid Go Hand In Hand
Think of a wine’s acidity like its natural superpower. High-acid white wines and rosés pair bring out the best in salty foods – think seafood, oysters, salad dressings, and raw bar favorites. On the other hand, acidity also works in contrast with fat (think heavier fish, cream sauces, and more) as it cuts through its innate heaviness and keeps your palate salivating for more.
… As Do Fat & Tannin
Similar to the way that acid and salt complement one another, so do tannins and fat. Tannins are the natural components in red (and heavily skin-contacted orange wines) that create a dry sensation in your mouth, similar to the feeling of drinking oversteeped tea. When tannins and fat collide, a chemical reaction actually takes place on your palate. As the molecules combine, fat softens tannins, rendering them more approachable and easy to consume. In the same vein, this chemical reaction also pronounces flavors in food – think of it like the best of both worlds!
Consider the Sauce!
While we often learn to pair wine with a dish’s base (white wine with fish, red wine with meat), food and wine pairings are actually a bit more complex. While taking the base / protein into account, it’s equally important to also consider the sauce being used. Acidic vinaigrettes and cream-based sauces come to life with zesty whites, while tomato-based sauces and mole show their best with acid-forward reds – think Sangiovese, Gamay, and beyond.
What Grows Together Goes Together
They say what grows together goes together, and in the realm of food and wine pairing, this couldn’t be more true. Wine begins its journey in the ground, so it only makes sense that other plants and animals that share the same space would pleasantly coexist. Looking for some go-to regional pairings? Goat cheese and Sancerre is a quintessential regional pairing, as are Jura-based whites and local comté, Sangiovese-led reds with Italian tomato sauce, and more.
When It Comes to Dessert, Sweeter Is Better
We believe that meals should always end on a high (that is, sweet) note. When pairing dessert wine with your favorite sweet treats, always make sure that whatever you pour in the glass is sweeter than what’s in the bowl / plate in front of you.