A Beginner’s Guide to Pairing Wine

There is nothing as refreshing as having a good meal with wine on the side. Going to the store to buy wine can, however, be an overwhelming experience given the many choices that are available. For most people, the question is always on which one to buy, and how to pair wine with food without going wrong.

Basic Tips for Pairing Wine

Some of the basic guides for pairing wine with food include:

  • The wine should be sweeter than the food you plan to pair it with
  • The wine should be more acidic than the food
  • The flavour of the wine and the food should have the same intensity
  • The best wine to use for bold flavours, such as red meats is red wine
  • Bitter wines are best used to balance fatty foods
  • It works better to pair wine with the sauce than with the meat
  • White wine, Ros├ęs, and sparkling wines are likely to create a contrasting pairing
  • Red wines are likely to create a matching pairing
  • White wines pair better with light meats, such as chicken and fish.


This is a very versatile wine and can be paired up with a wide range of foods. You should always bear in mind that Chardonnay comes in many varieties and styles. There is the full-bodied one that has a lot of oak and butter. There is also the lighter one. Check to see which one you have before you start pairing.

The advantage of using Chardonnay is because it is rich and will be felt in the dishes. Its acidity level makes it a good choice for rich creamy dishes. Some of the foods it can be paired with include the following:

  • Cheese and nuts: You can have a mild cheese with unoaked Chardonnay. For oaked chardonnay, you can pair it with toasted nuts.
  • Meat: Chardonnay pairs well with pork, veal, and chicken.
  • Seafood: It can be paired with lobster, shrimp, and crab.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Apples, mango, squash, and potato.
  • Spices and herbs: Sesame, tarragon, and basil.
  • Sauces: creamed sauces.
  • Desserts: Vanilla pudding and banana bread.

Pinot Noir

This is perfect for meals with earthly flavours. It is best paired with recipes that have ingredients such as mushrooms and truffles. The savoury taste of Pinot Noir gives a memorable taste to the food.


In the United States people are used to seeing the very sweet Reisling. In Europe, Riesling is a mild one. What makes Riesling a good wine to pair with food is its delicate balance between acidity and sweetness. It is a good choice to pair with spicy dishes such as Thai food. Some of the dishes it matches with include the following:

  • Nuts and cheeses: Gouda, walnuts, and pecans.
  • Meat and poultry: Duck and smoked sausage.
  • Seafood: Trout and sea bass.
  • Sauces: Spicy, chutney, and BBQ.
  • Desserts: Caramel and apple pie.
  • Spices and herbs: Ginger, Rosemary, and Indian spices.


The berry flavours in Merlot makes it a good pair with several dishes. For sauces, it is best paired with Bearnaise and Bolognese. When it comes to desserts, it pairs well with berries and dark chocolates. For meats, it goes well with steak and grilled meats, while for cheese and nuts, it should be paired with walnuts, chestnuts, and Parmesan cheese. It goes well with caramelised onions, plums, and tomatoes for fruits and vegetables.

How to Get a Perfect Pairing

  • Know basic tastes: You should be able to know the sweetness, acidity, fattiness, and spiciness of the wine and food.
  • Understand the components of wine: There are three general categories of wine. Red wines tend to have more bitterness, white and rose wines have more acidity and sweet wines are sweeter.
  • Consider the intensity: Before you pair wine and food, think about whether it is light or reach. If the wine is intense, you do not want to pair it up with a very light food, as the wine will overwhelm the food. Find a perfect balance so that they complement each other.
  • Be creative: Sometimes the best way to get the perfect pairing is by experimenting. Of course, you should not do this with a large portion of your food.