We’re letting you in on a secret: pairing food and wine isn’t as tricky as you think! Whether eating out at a restaurant or prepping dinner at home, marrying food and wine harmoniously is actually much easier than you think-- so long as you know where to start.
Follow these five basic rules for effortlessly easy food and vino matches!
Acid and Salt are Friends
There’s a good reason why we tend to drink crisp, refreshing whites with our favorite salty seafoods. In the world of food and wine pairing, salt and acid go hand in hand. High-acid wines bring out the saline savoriness in foods, keeping the palate salivating for more. It’s no mystery that thirst-quenching Albariño, zesty Muscadets, and high-acid Sancerres are some of your raw bar favorites’ best friends. Don’t forget Chablis and Champagne, too!
Tannins Love Fat
Ever get a bottle of red that seems to be undrinkable on its own, yet when paired alongside a juicy steak or rack of lamb, completely comes to life? In the same way that acid loves salt, tannins in red wine love fat. Basically, fats and tannins join together on the palate, softening each other out and bringing out the best in one another. Next time that prized bottle of Barolo or Cabernet Sauvignon (equally, Syrah based wines and Tuscan Sangiovese) seem a little too dry, try serving it alongside a rich, fat-filled dish. Your palate will thank you.
When paired alongside a juicy rack of lamb, a tannic red will come to life.
Break the Rules
White wine with fish/white meat, red wine with red meat, right? Not always! For far too long, the stereotype that wine and protein colors had to match dominated the food and wine pairing game, ruling out a bunch of unique pairings that are actually pretty awesome. Take salmon, for example. Although it’s technically fish, (hence, white wine, right?), the fattiness of the fish goes gorgeously alongside a light red, like a Burgundian Pinot Noir. The key here is making sure the intensity and weight of the wine matches that of the dish it is being paired to. Don’t be afraid to break the rules every once in awhile.
“The key is making sure the intensity and weight of the wine matches that of the dish it is being paired to.”
What Grows Together Goes Together
What do pairings like goat cheese and Sancerre, truffles and Barolo, and pasta with Chianti all have in common? Aside from being some of the most popular (and delicious) food and wine pairings in the world, all of these matches respectively hail from the same place. Crottin de Chavignol cheese and Sancerre, for example, both come from the Loire Valley, experiencing the same weather patterns, soil conditions, and terroir determining factors. There’s a reason these things go hand in hand-- they grow side by side!
Drink What You Love
And at the end of the day, food and wine pairing tips aside, the best one we recommend is to drink what you love. If Sauvignon Blanc and Cheetos are your thing, go for it. Don’t let anyone’s pairing rules stop you. Both food and wine are meant to be enjoyed, especially together. So raise a glass of your favorite wine, served alongside your favorite dish, and savor all of the joys that pairing food and wine can bring!
Now that you've mastered these basics, make sure to know what NOT to do when pairing food and wine.