Pairing Food & Wine
The perfect pairing of wine and food can elevate both the meal on your plate and wine in your glass to new levels. The wrong pairing can create a clash that overwhelms or falls flat. Follow these simple rules to take the guesswork out of pairing.
- Drink what you like. If you are sipping what you like, you are most likely going to enjoy to meal and the pairing. So trust your taste, first and foremost.
- Think about the meal or dish you are eating and its most prominent flavors. Is it rich and fatty or light and lean? Is it mild and mellow or bold and flavorful? You want to select a wine that will keep these flavors in balance.
- Match mild foods with mild wines. Match big, flavorful foods with big, flavorful wines. A juicy peppered steak could pair nicely with a bold, spicy Syrah. You also want to consider the acidity and richness of the dish and these same characteristics of the wine. A creamy pasta dish may be underwhelmed by a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, but could sing when paired with a rich Chardonnay. Likewise goes for acidic dishes. A bold tomato sauce will pair nicely with a red wine with some tartness and tannin, like a Sangiovese.
- Fattier foods work well with acid and tannin. Champagne or sparkling wine has nice acidity and can clean the palate after eating foods that are fatty. Likewise a fattier cut of meat, like a short rib pairs beautifully with a Cabernet Sauvignon because it has more tannin and can cleanse the palate.
- Spicy foods love aromatic and off-dry wines. Some wines can serve to inflame the heat when eating spicy Asian or Latin cuisine. A softer white with a hint of sweetness is the perfect foil for the heat of these dishes. Riesling and Gewurztraminer are fantastic pairings, but rose and Viognier are also lovely.
- Think regionally. If you are eating Italian food, choose an Italian variety. Many wines are designed to enhance their regional cuisine.
For food pairing recommendations for specific varietals, please visit our California Varietals section