Pairing food with wine

When pairing food with wine it is important to think about the act itself - what makes a pair? Sometimes opposites attract, but not always. The most import base to pair wine and food is always about the flavor. It's important to remember to always match similar flavors and textures and make sure the intensity of the wine contributes to the flavor of the dish.

Pairing similar strength, richness & texture

Pair wines with dishes that are similar in strength, richness and texture to help bring out the characteristics of both. Big, bold wines do better with heartier dishes while lighter wines are better enjoyed with delicate dishes. A nice, acidic Chainti will pair excellently with a tangy tomato based pasta with pungent cheese (like Parmesan). Or pair a light and fragrant white wine with a nice garlic and butter based seafood dish. Add basil and you're working with the herbal textures of the wine. Have fun and don't be afraid to experiment.


Pairing tannins

Tannins are what give a red wine that dry mouth feeling. Pairing a wine with high tannins to a food high in tannins, such as nuts, can make the wine almost undrinkable. Pair tannic wines with foods that will offset that dry-mouth feeling, such as meats and cheeses, which have fats that can break through the astringency.

balance the acidity of the food to the wine.

Pinot Grigio is a great wine to pair citric based foods like lemon chicken or light and floral soups or stews. If you're drinking a desert wine that is very sweet, have a nice biscotti or torte. The wine should always be just as sweet, or sweeter.

Balance tastes! 

Is the food sweet, sour, salty, bitter? How does the wine taste? Remember that salty and sour tastes in food will make wines taste milder (fruitier and less acidic), whereas most sweet and savory tastes make wines taste stronger (drier and more astringent).


Consider the region

Look at the region where the wines come from and pick food from that area. Italy is as diverse in its wines as it is in its cuisine. Take note of vegetables and spices that are popular in the region wher the wine was sourced and seek out dishes with those characteristics. Remember that the soil that the fruits and vegetables grow in, and the grass the native animals feed upon, is the same base for the vines. They feed off the same nutrients and will therefore have similar flavors. 

Light, Medium and Full-bodied wines

When you are cooking, remember that light body wines go well with steamed, lightly sauteed, or poached foods. Medium and full-bodied wines go better with grilled, roasted, or baked dishes that have intense flavors. Acidic wines work well with salty dishes. Try to work with the body of the wine and the depth of the meal.

Poultry

Game birds such quail, turkey, duck, and squab have earthy flavors that are more robust than chicken. Because of this, you should pair them with wines that can pick up those characteristics of spice and earth.


Fish and Seafood

Seafood does not always have to be paired with white whine. Chianti is such a diverse wine with a dry-body that it will not ruin and hide the flavors of the sea. Mix it up a bit and explore the flavors. Some shellfish, like oysters, are excellent with sparkling wine. The salt from the sea and carbonation from the sparkling wine is a killer combination.

FOOD PAIRING CHART

Pairing food with wine should be easy and fun, yet so many people become stressed at the idea of make a wine faux pas. Yet the best part about pairing food with wine is the experimentation and delights at finding a pairing that YOU enjoy. 

If you're confused as to where to start, below is a quick and easy guide to help you get a general idea of what wines pair well with different foods.

Varietals Seafood Poultry Meat Cheese Herbs
Pinot Grigio Trout, Swordfish, Crab, Calamari Chicken, Turkey Pork, Prosciutto Ricotta, Fontina, Provolone Basil, Chervil, Italian Parsley
Sangiovese Swordfish, Tuna Duck, Quail, Squab Lamb, Pork, Beef Asiago, Parmesan, Fontina, Ricotta Thyme, Bay Leaf, Fennel
Merlot Tuna, Salmon Quail, Duck, Squab Beef, Lamb, Venison Parmeson, Provolone, Aged Gouda Basil, Parsley, Mint, Thyme
Primitivo Cioppino, Tuna, Bouilliabaise Quail, Duck, Game Hens Italian Sausage, Lamb, Beef Parmesan, Fontina, Asiago, Ricotta Salata Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Parsley
Sauvignon Blanc Oysters, Crab, Sole, Trout Chicken, Turkey, Game Hens Pork, Veal Goat Cheese, Mozzeralla, Ricotta Dill, Chervil, Chives, Parsley, Cilantro
Chardonnay Crab, Shrimp, Lobster, Sea Bass Chicken, Turkey Pork, Chicken, Veal Jarlsberg, Brie, Camembert, Munster Tarragon, Chervil, Italian Parsley, Dill
Rosé Salmon, Shellfish, Grilled Sea Bass, Trout Chicken, Game Hens Pork, Prosciutto, Ham Goat Cheese, Parmesan, Feta, Gouda, Munster Italian Parsley, Basil, Chervil, Chives, Curry
Pinot Noir Salmon, Tuna, Swordfish Duck, Quail, Squab Lamb, Italian Sausage, Pork Parmeson, Asiago, Fontina, Cambozola Thyme, Fennel, Basil, Italian Parsley
Zinfandel Tuna, Cioppino, Bouillabaise Duck, Quail, Chicken Beef, Lamb, Sausage, Barbecue Ribs Parmesan, Aged Gouda, Asiago Pepper, Basil, Thyme, Bay Leaf, Fennel
Petite Sirah Salmon, Tuna, Red Snapper Chicken, Duck, Quail Beef, Italian Sausage, Lamb Asiago, Aged Cheddar, Aged Goat Cheese Thyme, Basil, Italian Parsley, Bay Leaf