Wine and Food Pairing 101

Pairing wine with food can be daunting. I’ve always just stuck to the age-old advice of red wine with meat and white with fish and salads. Though, now that I’m vegan, even that’s changed. So then I thought, well, red wine with heavier dishes? White with everything else? It always sounded so intimidating but over the years that I’ve learned more about wine, I began to realize it’s not as hard as I thought to pair wine with food, even if I’ve never tasted the wine before. I’m going to share a few basics that will set you up for success for creating the perfect combo.

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Photo by Stefan Johnson on Unsplash

First off, in order to at least have an understanding of what kind of wine your buying, you need to know a few things about the label. Look out for keywords. On the back of many bottles these days there is often a little note telling you the qualities of the wine. Rich with notes of blackcurrants, cherries, and smoke. This is obviously a good way to figure out how it tastes. Also look out for semi-sweet, sweet, dry, etc. as these are all important factors to consider when pairing.

Now, maybe you’re looking at a foreign wine bottle and you don’t understand what it says. Or maybe the bottle just isn’t giving you much information. Another way to guess on the taste and type is to know where the wine was made and what type of grape it is. For example, you see a Chardonnay bottle with no flavor profile but you see that it’s made in Napa Valley. Just from this, we know that Napa Valley Chardonnays tend to be buttery and oaky. (If you don’t remember what all of the major regions and grape types taste like, don’t worry I certainly don’t either, you can do a quick search to find characteristics.)

So, with that being said, keep in mind the types in a wine and remember a few things.

  1. Acidic wines are great with sweet and fat foods. The acid helps cut through the richness of a dish. (Fatty food need the acidity or a higher alcohol content)
  2. Tannic wine, or bitter wine, goes great with sweet food. They’re the yin and yang to each other, balancing out.
  3. Fruity wines are great with fruit; who would have thought? Pear those nice fruits and vegan cheese with a nice fruity aromatic wine. BUT! Be careful with really sweet dishes with very sweet wines. Sweet on sweet can easily be too much for each other and knock one to the side.
  4. Salt and acid; think of soy sauce dishes, or a dish with fries, and find a wine with a bit of acid, such as Chianti.

Now that we know the basics, I think this is an excuse to go get some food and drink. Cheers!

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