Pairing food with wine has been studied like a fine art. However, you don’t have to be a sommelier to learn the basics and enjoy pairing wine with meals on your own!
Here’s a quick guide for basic principles and pairings to help you get started on your personal wine journey.
Both food and wine can be divided into a few foundational tastes, including elements of bitter, salt, sweet, fat, and acid. For instance, cheese is high in fat and kale is bitter. Wine has similar elements of taste to food – for example, dark red wines with tannins often have a bitter edge to them.
The goal of pairing wine with food is to elevate your meal by combining flavors that complement and enrich each other. For example, wines rich in tannins tend to go well with meals rich in fat like steak. Acidic meals tend to taste better with creamy, lightly acidic white wines, and you can cut spice in your meal with sweet, low-alcohol wines.
Wine pairing can become very complicated if you get too caught up in flavor combinations. However, most food and wine pairings are meant to work in one of two ways: either the flavors are similar in congruent pairings, or they increase each other’s intensity through different flavors in complementary pairings.
You can think of wine as an ingredient in your meal rather than a separate entity. Many people enjoy well-rounded flavors in a meal, so you may want to incorporate a sweet wine into a bitter meal or serve a slightly bitter wine to cut a sweet dish.
Wine preferences are very personal, so don’t be afraid to try new combinations until you find what you like. Here are a few basic pairings to help you get started:
What better place to start than pairing wine with pizza? There’s a surprisingly large number of combinations you can try to elevate your next night in and learn more about your personal flavor preferences.
Tomato sauce is both acidic and sweet, so good wines to pair with an original pizza include complementary wines like a dry syrah or a congruent, acidic Italian Chianti. Wines with fruity tastes may help to balance out the acid in classic pizzas.
If you want to enjoy a lighter, fancier meal, consider pairing wine with seafood such as lobster or shallots. Lobster dishes are often served with a buttery cream sauce, a light salad, and an acidic salad dressing.
Champagne is one of the best wines to pair with this meal, as its dryness will elevate the flavors found in every component. Sauvignon blanc is another white wine with a high acidity that tastes good with seafood.
Of course, one of the best ways to drink wine is with chocolate. This is a great way to celebrate a special occasion, wind down while watching a movie or put together a gift for a loved one.
One of the best wines to pair with dark chocolate is cabernet sauvignon. This wine has a high level of tannins and fruity flavors that complement slightly bitter chocolate well.
Chocolate-covered strawberries go well with rosé and a dry riesling pairs well with spicy chili chocolate.
Pairing wine with food doesn’t have to be difficult, and if you find you enjoy it, there’s a lot more you can learn and delve into. Start simple with these combinations and then branch out to find new favorite pairings that challenge you to notice and appreciate the complex variety of the flavors in your food.
Cora Gold has spent over five years writing about her passion for life, style, beauty, and more. As Editor-in-Chief for Revivalist.com, she aims to connect with others who share her interests and find new inspiration every day. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.