How To Choose A Wine To Match Your Meal

by Updated April 16, 2012

Wines come in many different tastes and budgets, range from red to white to rose, from sweet and light to robust and tangy. With so many different selections to choose from, how are you going to ensure that you choose a wine to match your meal? While it’s commonly accepted to pair complex dishes to full bodied wines and lighter fare with a more delicate wine, you can always go outside the norm to complement your food differently.

Step One – Try To Match Flavors

When choosing your wine, identify the dominant flavor of the dish to match it to. Rich, fatty dishes of red meats often pair well with a Merlot or Zinfandel while conversely delicate dishes of white fish taste best when served with wines such as Sauvignon Blanc.  Remember to not overpower either the dish or the wine with the other.

Step Two – Complement the Sauce

You can also pair the wine with the sauces you are serving with the food, as opposed to the food itself. A heavy cream sauce tastes divine with a Chardonnay while rich gravy would taste best with a Merlot. A pesto sauce would balance a Sauvignon Blanc wine due to its tartness and flavor while a soy-inspired Asian dish would do very well with a Riesling due to its fruity flavor balance.

Step Three – Match the Regions

If you are not able to find a suitable wine using the above techniques, you can try matching the regions. For example, if you are serving a simple risotto, try pairing it with a light, redBardolino. A Greek style dinner goes well with Retsina white wine with its herbaceous aromas.

Step Four – Alternative Choices

Here are a list of some commonly coupled dishes and the easiest wines to get a hold of.

Cabernet Sauvignon – Lamb, roast beef with gravy, veal, blue veined cheese, semi firm cheese, cheese pasta dishes

Chardonnay – Various salads, grilled seafood, fish, mild semi-soft cheese, pasta, bean salads, pork, turkey, chicken, steak

Pinot Grigio – Breaded fish, sushi/sashimi

Merlot – Duck, lamb chops, pesto pasta, steak, pork chops

Riesling – Ribs, egg dishes, ham, spicy dishes, pizza

Shiraz – Beef stew, lamb, pork chops

Sauvignon Blanc – Fried foods, fish or seafood, pizza, Middle Eastern food

Zinfandel – Beans, meat soups, lamb, liver, pasta, roasted meats, steaks



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