10 Tips for pairing food & wine

10 Tips for pairing food & wine
10 Tips for pairing food & wine


Match the Style – The style and weight of the wine you pick should match the food on your plate.  For example, a robust Cabernet would pair well with a hearty steak.  Similarly, food with intense flavour like blue cheese should be paired with a sweet wine like port.  For lighter dishes like fish, choose more delicate white wines, like Chardonnay.

Don’t Worry About the Colour of the Meat – It’s often said that white meats like chicken, pork, and fish should go with white wine, and red meats like beef and lamb should be paired with red wine. However, you should think about the dish as a whole. Chicken served with a tomato-based sauce could easily go well with a lighter red wine.

Stick to the Same Region – Dishes that come from a certain region almost always pair well with wines from the same region. eg: Seafood dishes from the West Coast will work wonderfully with white wine from the Cape Winelands.

Avoid Oaky Wines – Unless you really know what you’re doing, a big oaky flavour can overpower the food it’s paired with.  In general, wines with less oaky notes are easier to pair with food.

Add Salt – Salt will not only add flavour to your food, but it will also help your wine complement the dish. Salt can make wines taste milder, fruitier, and less acidic, which tends to be pleasing to the palette.

Don’t Be Afraid of Acidity – Acidic dishes will actually bring out the fruit in the wine, and the wine will help frame the flavours of the dish.  Spicy curry dishes work well with sweeter, low-alcohol wines like Riesling, which will enhance the flavour of the dish without fighting them.

Consider the Most Prominent Flavour – For skilled pairings, consider the most dominant character of a dish. This tends to be the sauce, seasoning, or cooking method rather than the main ingredient – just think about all the different ways you can cook and season a chicken!

Experiment – Many new wine drinkers assume that there’s only one good “paring” for a certain wine or dish.  In fact, there are many different possibilities, so don’t be afraid to try new combinations until you find one that you like.

Go for Bubbles – When in doubt, sparkling wine or champagne works with almost any food, especiallythe drier brut varieties.

 It’s Up to You – When it comes to pairing wine and food, the real right answer is up to you. You have a unique palette that prefers certain flavours over others; it’s likely that the flavours you like will pair together well. So, drink and eat the wine/food combinations that you enjoy the most!

Article written by Joseph Morris.  Joseph Morris is an avid food and wine enthusiast. He also owns the site Culinary Arts College for students interested in getting a degree in culinary arts.