How to Pair Food and Wine like a Pro


True story: when I was in college I used to pair my wine with Goldfish. While Im not saying thatunique wine pairingsarent amazing in their own right, Ive come a long way since my days of combining Moscato and cheesy fish-shaped crackers. As an avid wine drinker (and wannabe chef), I love trying out delicious new wine and food pairings. Through plenty of trial and error, Ive learned that there is such a thing as finding the perfect wine to pair with your meal. And yes, it makes a world of difference. Dont believe me? Use these tips to pair your food and wine like a pro!

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Think Outside the Plate

The most important thing to remember when selecting a wine is choosing something that pairs well with your dishs preparation, not just the protein. Yes, the age-old fish and white wine match up is generally a safe bet, but theres no guarantee all white wines will perfectly pair with all fish dishes.

Be mindful of your meals preparation method (grilled, poached, baked, stewed, barbecued, fried) and think about the sauces you use. If youre serving up roasted chicken with lemon butter sauce over a potato and cauliflower puree, think about the components that make that dish delicious. Bypass your I know exactly what goes with chicken presumptions and think about the citric lemon flavors or the creamy, buttery cauliflower. Remember to evaluate all components in your dish before settling for a subpar standby.

cheese and wine pairing

Opposites AttractOr Maybe They Dont

Unlike some things in life, the rule of thumb opposites attract isnt always true for food and wine pairings. Sometimes, the best pairing is the one where the food and wine have similar taste profiles. Ever heard of pairing of Sauvignon Blanc and goat cheese? This classic pairing is beloved by many for a very good reason, even though they have similar flavor characteristics. The high acidity in the wine compliments the salty acidic taste that the cheese leaves in your mouth. Pairing like with like, also known as mirroring, is a simple trick winos use to pick a wine for an entre. Essentially, the flavors in the wine should reflect the flavors in the food. If you pick a wine that has similar flavor characteristics as your meal, the main flavors will complement each other.

Broaden your palate by matching other wines and foods that have similar tastes. Next time you cook that pork roast with blueberry sauce, try pairing it with a Merlot that also has dark berry tastes. The combination of the similar flavors will feel crisp and fresh. Trust me, youll be much happier with these combinations than my college-self was with the dynamic Goldfish and Moscato duo.

While similar tastes go well together, sometimes the age-old saying opposites attract works even better. Take your favorite spicy Chinese dish for example. The next time you order your takeout, think about chilling a bottle of your favorite sweet Riesling in the fridge first. The sweet wine will counteract the spiciness of your dish, cooling your mouth from the heat of the food. This sweet and spicy combo goes for more than just Chinese and Riesling, too. Spicy tacos go great with sweet wine. It might sound a bit weird to combine tacos with anything other than margs (tell me about it, I feel like Im cheating on margs every time I pick wine instead) but the wine will feel way more refreshing than your strawberry margarita ever did.

What Grows Together Goes Together

Certain wines became popular in specific regions centuries ago because they paired so well with the crops and goods produced in that area. Considering that the grapes grew amongst the same soil as the local vegetation, you can almost never go wrong with a classic regional pairing. Always consider theterroirof the dish youre pairing with. Think about its sense of place.

Eating spaghetti bolognese with bright and acidic tomato sauce? Reach for a Chianti Classico from Tuscany. Noshing on oysters or seafood? Try pairing the dish with an Albario from the Ras Baixas coastline. Following this grows together goes together method will transform your dinner into a culinary masterpiece.

Important Interactions

While I usually love the rules are meant to be broken notion, some wine and food pairing principles are just meant to be followed. Foods like steak or bacon need acidity to cut through the fat and cleanse your palate. Pairing these meats with Aglianico or a smoky Syrah will leave your mouth refreshed and thirsting for the next bite. Similarly, rich dishes with alfredo sauce or gravy require wines high in tannins for the same palate-cleansing effect. Foods rich with sugar will always need a wine thats equally as sweet. Pair your crme brle (or boxed chocolate cake) with a sweet Riesling or Moscato to avoid a bitter aftertaste.

Break away from your dorm room standards, and leave the days of pairing wine with whatever you found in the back of your pantry behind. Wine and food are meant to be enjoyed together. If you pair them properly, youll enhance the flavors and make both even more delicious. Just follow these rules to pair your food and wine like a pro, and youll be an expert in no time.


This post originally appeared on Glass Half Full, the Bright Cellars Blog. As part of this partnership, new customers to Home Chef can take $80 off your first four boxes with the promo code WINEDAY, and new customers to Bright Cellars can take $50 off their first box of four bottles at

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