The right wine with the right food can be as simple as picking the one that you enjoy drinking. There conventions that have stood the test of time to help you to match food and wine to bring out the flavours of each other to enhance your dining experience. These guidelines are typically "matchy-matchy"
Everyone will find there are exceptions, especially since dining has become more exotic and diverse, than in the past.
Experience will help recognize which wines are acidic or which retain bitterness sour, bitter, sweet and salty.
Here are some suggstions for picking a great wine for various types of cuisines. These are the tricky ones, since you can do no wrong if pairing a French wine with French dish, or an Italian wine with Italian food.
|Barbecue||Wines need to be both fruity and rich for the general foods. Rosé and light style grenache make good choices. Sauvignon Blancs with seafood. More powerful cuts of meat (sirloin) and richly flavoured may be accompanied by fuller style wines of Grenache and Shiraz. Zinfandel is a natural match of an American wine with a traditional American food. You might also try a Petite Sirah and Beaujolais (either the French original or the U.S. Gamay).|
|Chinese||Choose slightly sweet or off-dry wines. Frontignac, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Rosés and Traminers are the best. With roasted birds like Peking duck Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and light Californian Zinfandel.|
|Indian||Choose full-bodied sparking wines and fruit driven reds such as Merlot for sweet curries. Hot and spicy styles match well to slightly sweet and cold Riesling and Gewürztraminer.|
|Japanese||Choose very cold, off-dry, fruity white wines. Any red or white sparkling wine in general. Riesling, Chablis, Muscadet or Sauvignon Blanc go well with Sushi or Sashimi. Eith red-fleshed fish, you can also pair New World Pinot and Cotes de Beaune reds, lighter Gamay and Dolcetto wines. Avoid "grapey" reds as they can overshelm the fish flavour.|
|Mexican||Very cold, fruity, full-bodied Sauvignon Blancs and Rosés. Chilli heat will overpower the aromatic nature of Rieslings and Traminers. Pinot Noirs is a good choice and light Merlot. Cabernet is too tannic and robust.|
|Middle Eastern||Fruity wines, both red and white, work well. Choose the drier Rosés and Rieslings.|
|Thai||Similar spicy foods to those of Japanese. Rosé is a good choice. Rieslings, Gewürztraminer and Frontignac can go well. Traminer is best suited to spiced dishes of a floral nature. Dry whites and reds are generally not suited.|
|Vegetarian||Vegetarian such as bean dishes, enchiladas suit light to medium red, Merlot and light style whites, while pairing Chardonnays and dry Riesling with meals based on green vegetables. If dishes have flavourful mushrooms like portabellos or cepes, accompany them with fine reds,|
|Vietnamese||Choose very cold, fruity, slightly sweet Rosés and Traminers. Rieslings are possibly too acidic. Chardonnay is a good all round choice.|
Here are some suggstions for picking a great wine for a specific food. We are presuming you shopped for groceries before you are heading off to the liquor or wine store, or that you selected your menu first and now wish to pair it with a great wine from the cellar (or cupboard). This will help you shop for just the right wine for your dinner.
|Fried Foods||Sparkling wines with a firm acid finish are terrific. Any crisp, dry, fruity wine, white or red. The acid needs to be high to cut through the fats.|
|Soup||Heavier style soups will suit a wine more. Fino or Amontillado sherry|
|Salad||Avoid wine with a salad that has been dressed with a vinegar base. With a Salade Niçoise try a dry Provence rosé. Sauvignon blanc works with shrimp cocktail, and Pinot Noir with smoked salmon. For other salads Champagne would be the safest choice.|
|Pates||Semillon, Fumé Blanc for general pate and Chardonnay with a fish pate or Sauvignon Blanc for oily types.|
|Foie gras||Pair this either with your best Burgundy, red or white, or with a rich, toothache-sweet Sauternes. A Canadian icewine would also be a stellar contrast of flavours.|
|Pasta Dishes||Barbera and Sangiovese are Italian varieties and supply varietal fruits, crisp acid finish, deep colour and low tannin. But you can;t go wrong with Chianti. For dishes with a cheese sauce like Fettuccine Alfredo, consider Chardonnay. For dishes with a seafood sauce without tomatoes, consider a dry, crisp white like a Sauvignon Blanc or Fumé Blanc, or a fruity Italian white like Vernaccia, Orvieto, Soave, Frascati.|
|Caviar||Champagne, the finer the better. The bubbles complement the texture of the caviar.|
|Fish||Unoaked and acidic white wines, such as Chablis, Muscadet or Sancerre|
|Prawns||Any crisp dry white styles, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, dry Riesling, Semillon|
|Oysters||Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and fine Champagne|
|Scallops||These work well with chardonnays (Grand cru Chablis), rieslings (German Kabinett, Pacific Northwest), Austrian grüner Vertliners, Spanish Rias Baixas or Portugese white Vinho verde. On the other hand, scallops in cream sauces require richer whites like fine Graves and Burgundies, New World chardonnays, or German Auslese and Spätlese wines.|
|Lobster||Chenin Blanc and dry Riesling for a cold salad with dressing. For a hot dish Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Marsanne. If you are serving lobster in a salad, try it with Condrieu and Champagne|
|Scallops||Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged Semillon|
|Mussels||Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged Semillon|
|White Fish||Smokey and oaked flavours will complement, Fumé Blanc and Oaked Chardonnay. Alsace Pinot Gris or Italian Pinot Grigio. Full-bodied reds should be avoided such as Cabernet Sauvignon that can present an unpleasant metallic tangy taste. Fish in tomato or herb based sauces will accompany a medium weighted red (shiraz).|
|Salmon, Tuna||Delicate Chardonnay and dry Riesling. Pinot Noir will also suit. Tuna will also sit well with medium bodied Merlot and Shiraz. these also work well with lighter Burgundies, as well as Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley.|
|Chicken, Rabbit||For roast chicken Pinot Noir or Merlot.|
|Turkey||Roasted or cold sliced turkey is a great companion for Cabernet blends with Shiraz and Merlot. Or try a more adventurous Beaujolais or Zinfandel. Medium to full bodied Shiraz will also suit or Riesling, Gewürztraminer or Chenin Blanc for white wine lovers.|
|Pork||If you are leaning to reds, consider a Beaujolais, Zinfandel, a lighter-styled Pinot Noir, a bold full-bodied Shiraz. or a crisp acidic Chardonnay. If you are leaning to whites, pair it with Chenin Blanc, Riesling, or an Alsatian Riesling or Gewurztraminer.|
|Lamb||Medium to full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or a dry red Burgundies, Rhones, Pinot Noir and medium to full-bodied Syrah/Shiraz. Tuscan reds and Italy Chianti.|
|Beef||Full bodied Shiraz for sirloin. Fillet steak and medium weighted Cabernet, Merlot and Cabernet Franc or blends of these. Spicy garnished meats such as pepper or mustard deserve spicy style wines like Grenache and Peppery Shiraz. Roast beef Cabernet Sauvignon (Bordeaux), Pinot Noir (Burgundy) and the Syrah-based red Rhone wines. Big style reds from Tuscany and the Piemonte in Italy -- Barolo, Brunello, and Chianti.|
|Veal||Gnerally stay with rich white wines, White Burgundy, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Austrian Grüner Veltliners, or German Rieslings. You might also try a light red like Beaujolais or Pinot Noir from France or else a Dolcetto or Chianti from Italy.|
|Duck||Pair the dark, rich meat with hearty wines like Pinot Noir, Rhones or Northwestern Italian reds, but you can also try a white wine like Vouvray (demisec or moelleux), Alsatian Gewurztraminer or a good Riesling.|
|Goose||If you're looking for a red, select a mid-weight and slightly acid Shiraz or Merlot, or go for a nice Pinot Noir or any Rhones and Northeastern Italian reds|
|Venison||Big meaty styles of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Game dishes also pair well with Rhône or Burgundy wines.|
|Turkey||Turkey has both light and dark meat, and is often served with cranberry sauce to "tart" things up. Pair this with Beaujolais (timing might get you a Nouveau Beaujolais) a or Zinfandel if you want a red, or Riesling, Gewurztraminer or Chenin Blanc if you prefer a white.|
|Cheeses||Cheddars – Cabernet Sauvignon and fuller Merlots, barrel fermented Chardonnay and Semillon.|
Swiss,Gruyere – Pinot Noir.
Blue cheese – Sauterne, Tawny Port and Dessert wines are traditional but will also work with very dry (Fino) Sherries.
Creamy cheeses, Camembert and Brie – Very dry Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Malolactic Chardonnay for those developed buttery notes. Champagne also works well.
Parmigiano Reggiano, Romano, and hard cheeses - dry Italian reds, from Chianti to Barolo. Or try a heavy Amarone.
|Dessert||Good dessert wines such a Botrytis wines are best sipped and should be served by themselves as a dessert. Mousses and crème brûlée are well matched to Sauterne. Muscat and sweet Riesling for fruit tarts, fruit cakes and nut based pies like pecan. Blue cheese and nuts (walnuts) with Tawny Port. You can also pour a good sherry or Port over ice cream.|
|Fruit||Aromatic wines for those strong fruit flavours Riesling, Traminer, Frontignac|