Food and Wine Pairing Basics

food_wine_basicsNothing is hotter right now in the culinary world than food and wine pairing. Dinners abound and homemade chefs are trying their hand at it as well. Here is a guide that we often refer to as a basis for food and wine pairing. I’ve found more than anything else, the ‘don’t’ rules are more important than the ‘do.’ After all, food and wine pairing should be fun and some of the best combinations have been found by not following the rules!


1. Choose similar flavors: Think lemon sauce with citrus flavored wine (ex. Sauvignon Blanc).
2. Pair the spices and the sauce, not the protein: Too many people focus on whether you are serving fish or steak, pair your wine with the sauce instead…a fish dish with a red sauce can pair wonderfully with Pinot Noir.
3. Pair by color: As a fail-safe, there is no better rule. White sauce? White wine. Red sauce? Red wine.
4. Pair by weight: Strong, full flavored foods are going to kill light bodied white wines. Try to match the weight of the wine and the strength of its flavor with an equal dish.
5. Serve sweet with spicy: Sweet wines can balance the heat from spicy dishes.


1. Serve food that is sweeter than your wine: When going sweet with sweet, the wine should always be sweeter than the dish.
2. Kill acid with acid: Like the sweetness rule, the wine should always be more acidic than the dish.
3. Upstage the wine: If you are serving a special bottle of wine, don’t pair it with a highly complex dish. Simpler is better, always.
4. Mix acid and tannin: A acidic dish paired with a heavy tannin wine (ex. Cabernet) will just result in an unpleasant metallic taste.
5. Pair sweet foods with tannic wine: If you thought the wine was bitter before you tasted your chocolate cake, just wait until afterwards.

When all else fails…

Serve Pinot Noir, it is the most food friendly wine out there.

5 Responses to Food and Wine Pairing Basics

  1. Great tips! I’m somewhat inept at pairing wine with food, so I go with the bottom rule to serve Pinot Noir as it goes with everything. It also happens to be my favorite, so that doesn’t hurt!

    • Jessica says:

      Well the most important part of pairing is drinking what you like. If you don’t like the wine, the food won’t make you change your mind! Try pork with Pinot, perfect pairing :)

  2. Jules says:

    Totally agree with these tips, especially when it comes to choosing things based on spice, not protein!


    Jules of Canines & Couture

  3. Jen says:

    Such great tips! I love having wine with dinner but usually stick to white because it’s a little sweeter. Will definitely keep these tips in mind for our next dinner party.

    xo jen
    Pearls & Lace

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