Find out about
Wine in all its variety is a perfect accompaniment to food and when paired well each will enhance the other bringing out flavours and making each component better than the sum of its parts! The idea is to try to balance them so that neither the food nor the wine overpowers each other.
To get the best match it is important to look at the elements within both the wine and the food itself. The prime aim is to try to balance each so that neither the food nor the wine overwhelms the other.
The main components to consider within food and wine are its Flavour, Weight, Acidity, Salt, Tannin and Sweetness.
The first and most important rule when deciding which wine to match with your food is to take into account your own personal taste! If you enjoy a particular match then it is the right choice for you.
You will also often find that a region's speciality dish is naturally complemented by the wines produced in that same area. So this can be a good starting point when looking for wines to match your food.
One of the most important elements is to try and match the weight of the food with the weight or ‘body’ of the wine. It’s not necessarily just about the colour (white for fish and red for meat!) but how rich and structured the wine is in your mouth.
Lighter foods such as fish or chicken dishes will be suited to delicate fresh white wines or lighter reds. Rich or heavy red meat dishes will be suited to big red wines or even very full-bodied whites.
The flavour strength in the wine and food should be similar. If the wine and food share joint characteristics then this also makes for good combinations. One of the best examples is the gooseberry and asparagus notes of a Sauvignon Blanc pairing well with Asparagus food dishes.
However, it is often not the meat or fish in a dish that provides the main flavour but the sauce or spice that is used in the cooking. Imagine any curry dish, the sauce will usually overwhelm any flavour of the main ingredient. In this case it is more important to find a wine to pair with the sauce and so in this instance you could choose a wine made from the Grüner Veltiner or Gewürztraminer grapes that are also often described as having spicy notes.
Many wines can have high acidity and this is of much benefit when pairing with fatty foods. Acidity in a wine will cut through much of the oiliness of a particular dish and cleanse the palate.
White wines from cooler regions such as Champagne or the Loire, New Zealand and Chile are generally high in acid although certain grape varieties will naturally produce higher acid too, for example; Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino or Muscadet. Blanc. Italian reds too will have a high acid level and this helps cut through the style of food produced in this country.
Food and wine can both have acidity. Tomatoes, citrus and green apples are high-acid foods and when a citrus juice or vinegar is used as a distinctive ingredient for a dish you will find a high acid wine will complement the food too.
Salt will increase the perception of the body of the wine but decreases the effect of bitterness and acidity. Salty foods are complemented by some sweetness in the wine. A good example being the classic combination of Port with a good Stilton cheese.
Lower tannin red or rosé wines with lower alcohol levels and with a hint of sweetness, such as a Pinot Noir will also work well with salty food for example with baked and speciality hams.
Dry wines that go well with salty food like shellfish have obvious acidity and a hint of sweetness, such as a Riesling or a Gewürtztraminer. Equally Champagne’s dry acidity enhances the saltiness of a spoon of caviar.
Sweetness in a dish would make a dry wine seem to loose its fruit characteristics and appear over-acidic and bitter. So, as a general rule a wine should be sweeter than the food it is served with. Sweetness in a wine also pairs well with richer foods, the classic combination with Sauternes and Foie Gras for example. The Sauternes also has good acidity which again works well cutting through the fattiness of the Foie Gras.
Remember too that sweetness in a wine acts as a good foil to saltier dishes, such as some cheeses.
Tannins, usually found in red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec are due to the prolonged presence of the grape skins and stalks in the making of the wine give the wine structure and development potential. They may also be found in oak aged white wines, where they derive from the barrel itself. Tannins are not present in food itself. Tannins can be felt through the sensation of astringency on your gums (not bitterness) and causes a feeling of drying or puckering in your mouth. The structure tannin gives a wine works very well with more textural food like red or fattier meats such as steak and lamb.
Lighter tannin wines such as Pinot Noir and Gamay for the Beaujolais appellation or even an oak aged Chardonnay would be better suited to fish or chicken dishes.
These meats are ideal to match with big, powerful high tannin wines, the texture of these dishes softens the tannin element of well structured red wines. Good examples are Red Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon (ie Château Gasquerie) or Argentinian Malbec along with spicy full bodied Rhône wines made from Grenache and Syrah grapes, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas.
- Marco Zunino Malbec
- Château Cissac
- Haut Medoc
- Domaine Cecile Chassagne Gigondas
For these filling and hearty dishes a Cote du Rhône or Red Burgundy would suit – Givry Cuvee Jean Chofflet
Because of the acidity of the tomato sauce and the sweetness of cooked onions a medium bodied Italian red with softer tannins such as a Montepulciano or even a French Red from the Pays d’Oc.
With similar characteristics in taste to a Bolognese but with added creaminess your wine would need to be a little stronger in character to do the dish justice, a Rioja Crianza or Malbec blend would both be good.
Vina Palaciega Rioja Crianza
The rich and punchy flavours of a Stroganoff would be set off well by a similarly full bodied Côtes du Rhône.
Château Mont Thabor Côtes du Rhône
Its flavour characters would play well with a French or Chilean rustic red such a Carignan or Carmenere.
Narrow Valley Carmenere
The punchy flavours suit a stronger red, perhaps something with a Cabernet Sauvignon base such as a red Bordeaux or a Tempranillo.
Vina Palaciega Rioja Crianza
To bring out the fuller savoury flavours of Carpaccio of Beef, a Chianti or Chianti Classico would offset the flavours.
Spiced Southern French Reds or a New World Cabernet Sauvignon.
A red Bordeaux ideally with some age in order for some of the tannins to have softened, or will also take a fuller bodied Burgundy or other Pinot Noir.
Once again a red Bordeaux can be your ‘go to’ standby wine to bring out the best flavours in each, but if the Veal is served in a creamy sauce a Chardonnay might be the better option. Domaine des Aspes Chardonnay
If grilled, a Beaujolais will go very well, but Calves liver could also work well with a Rioja Crianza.
Domaine Franc Pierre Beaujolais Villages
Unoaked or lightly oaked, fragrant Whites go best with everyday Chicken dishes and a classic Chardonnay would suit. For those who prefer a red with their roasts a mature Bordeaux with soft tannins would be the ideal alternative.
Domaine des Aspes Chardonnay
The level of oiliness in Chicken Kiev means a wine will need a certain amount of acidity to complement it so a cooler climate Chardonnay would work well or a white Rioja to support the garlic flavours.
Pirinoa Road Chardonnay
Chicken Pie will often have a creamy sauce within which will need some acidity within a wine but will also support the richness of a Chardonnay from a warmer climate such as Australia.
First Drop Mère et Fils Chardonnay
If tomatoes are being used as a base for the stew then an Italian red is often the best place to start, otherwise a lighter bodied Merlot or Vin du Pays red would work well.
Il Caggio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
It is often said that when making a Coq-au-Vin you should cook with the best wine you can afford and then drink the same! Traditionally this would mean a Red Burgundy, although a New Zealand Pinot Noir would work equally well.
Snapper Rock Pinot Noir
Gewürztraminer with its hints of pepper matches much lightly spiced Asian cuisine.
Guntrum Gewürtztraminer Dry
A New World Semillion or Semillion blend would pair very well with these.
These could support ‘big’ Bordeaux, Haut Médoc, Médoc and Riojas often the New World, Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia, Chile, Argentina or South Africa for example.
Being a lighter lamb based dish needs a lower tannin wine, preferably with little or no oak added, such as a Beaujolais or a fruity Vin de Pays red.
Domaine des Aspes Merlot
A grown up dish that will work with an equally mature Cabernet Sauvignon. Jordan’s The Long Fuse Cabernet Sauvignon, South Africa
A Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon would be a luscious match.
Narrow Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva – a well rounded Cabernet with lots of juicy fruit.
These would suit a fruity red such as a Tempranillo, Red Rioja or a young Cabernet Sauvignon.
First Drop Pinto Tempranillo
For lamb dishes that include more spice a white wine will often work better, try a German Kabinett Riesling for example.
Villa Wolf Riesling
A Zinfandel would work well with the soft and fruitful flavours of a Lamb Tagine.
Hope Family Liberty School Zinfandel
We would suggest a heartier Italian red wine such as a Barolo, the Amalia is drinking well now and will improve further with age.
Amalia Barolo DOCG
A Rioja would work well with this, not too heavy with the oak but with just enough acidity to cut through the béchamel sauce.
Vina Palaciega Rioja Crianza
A light and fruitful Beaujolais or a new world lightly oaked Chardonnay would work with classic Roast Pork, the Chardonnay working particularly well if the Pork is complemented by Apple Sauce.
Fleurie Cuvée Presidente Marguerite, Cave de Fleurie, Domaine Les Charmettes Chardonnay
A Vouvray Sec or New World Chenin Blanc work well with Charcuterie in general, their lower acidity and hints of minerality often complement the preserved meats.
A Syrah or punchy red wine from Southern France will support the strong flavours within a Cassoulet. Prieuré des Mourgues Saint Chinian
Sausages can cope with Red wines that have a bit more tannin and body, and a Bordeaux or Rhone red would suit and for a white wine choice, Chablis goes unexpectedly well.
Château de Tabuteau Lussac, Domaine des Malandes Chablis
Unoaked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and even if paired with something sweeter a Viognier.
Marco Zunino Chardonnay, Cave Saint-Verny Pinot Noir, Domaine des Aspes Chardonnay Viognier
Thinking of Serrano on its own would lead one to think of it as a Tapas dish and therefore pairing it with sherry such as a Colosia Fino, but another match worth considering is a good Prosecco.
Il Caggio Prosecco
Especially when eaten warm, all go really well with the mid fruitiness of a Beaujolais or an Albarino from Spain.
When selecting a wine for Pork Casseroles, as always you should consider the sauce first, for those higher in acidity with onion or tomatoes a Ribera del Duero wine would make a lovely accompaniment, but if the sauce is white wine based a dry German or French Pinot Gris might be a better match.
An Italian Pinot Grigio would cut through any fattiness in the chop well while proving a complimentary flavour to the meat, if a red is preferred a Merlot would suit well.
A good quality, crisp Pinot Grigio or for something fuller and perhaps smoother a Gavi both from Italy of course. Another dry white which would suit the creamy combination would be a Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc area of France.
A Gewürtztraminer works well with the spiciness and its honeyed nose will complement the Pork too.
Louis Guntrum Gewürtztraminer
A fruity Rosé will bring out the best in these dishes, so forget the subtle restraint of a Provençale Rosé, think further afield and you will be on the right lines!
Villa Wolf Rose
The perfect wine with Roast Duck is a lighter red Burgundy with the raspberry/cherry fruit flavours of these wines complementing the duck’s flavour. If the dish is to be accompanied by a fruit sauce such as orange or cherry, the wine should be chosen to complement the sauce and a Merlot might suit.
An Australian Chardonnay or a slightly off dry Vouvray wine where the hint of sweetness will balance the fattiness of the duck.
First Drop Mere et Fils Chardonnay
Duck preserved in its own fat is best served with an off dry and aromatic grape that can cut through the greasiness of the meal. An Alsace Pinot Gris would suit perfectly, or a light styled red Burgundy or Marsanne Roussanne / Marsanne Viognier.
The aromatics of a Gewurztraminer or a German or Alsacian Pinot Gris would both work well with Peking duck or if a red is preferred a New Zealand or Tasmanian Pinot Noir.
Villa Wolf Pinot Gris, Tamar Ridge Pinot Noir
Even if you prick the skin of your goose to let the fat run out as it roasts, goose is still the richest and fattiest of all meat. As an almost seasonal treat it deserves a top of the range Red Burgundy or mature red Bordeaux.
Santenay Premier Cru Clos Rousseau, Château Ormes de Pez
Whether from a goose or duck this is an incredibly rich and luxurious dish. To balance both the richness and high-fat content a very sweet wine with marked acidity is required here a French Sauternes would come into its own or perhaps a sweeter wine from a cool climate.
Petit Guiraud Sauternes
An almost exclusively seasonal question is what to drink with roast turkey – Christmas day not being too far off! Turkey is a fairly light-flavoured meat although slightly more intense than Chicken of course. As a result tannin rich wines should be avoided and in this case a perfect pairing of white wine with white meat applies, a full bodied Chardonnay coming into its own. If you would prefer a Red then a more mature wine to ensure the tannins have softened adequately would suit or one with softer tannins to begin with. An aged Bordeaux is often a standby favourite for this role.
Maison Auvigue Pouilly Fuissé a traditional Burgundy Chardonnay or Two Rivers Clos des Pierres Chardonnay from New Zealand are both elegant choices and Château Mayzeras, Pomerol would also work well.
The strength of flavour from a roasted Pheasant, (which will intensify the more the bird is left to hang of course) requires a well structured and rich classic red wine. A Barolo would work well as would a Grand Reserva Rioja or Chianti Classico alongside a good Bordeaux or even northern Rhône offerings.
Torgiano Rosso Santa Caterina,
Is best without much tannin as its rich gamey flavours would compete, therefore a Red Burgundy with some age would go well with it. Pinot Noirs from cooler New World regions such as Australia, New Zealand and North America would also be a good option or a punchy Nebbiolo from Italy like a Barolo.
Terra Sancta Pinot Noir
These allow a greater breath of wine as flavours are often softened with the addition of other ingredients – wine, onions, herbs etc and a Cabernet Sauvignon would work well.
Hope Family Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon
Fish, Shellfish and Seafood Dishes
These types of fish will all benefit from zesty and refreshing whites to balance out each dish, Italian Pinot Grigios or Vermentinos, Grüner Veltliners, French Muscadet, Spanish Albarino, or French Sauvignon Blancs or Chablis.
These would all work well with a bit more weight so a medium bodied white with higher aromatics or a rich full bodied white with oak ageing, a Spanish Verdejo, Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, Pinot Gris from Alsace. If a red is required a Beaujolais or light Pinot Noir would be ideal.
Two Rivers Convergence Sauvignon Blanc, Domaine Franc Pierre Beaujolais Villages
Simple white fish such as Cod and Plaice fried in batter go well with Italian Whites as once again the acidity cuts through the oiliness of the batter well.
These fish will carry rich white wines with full flavours and some lighter reds and rosé wines. Vintage Champagne, White Burgundies, White Côtes du Rhône, a new world Chardonnay Light Pinot Noirs and dry Rosés.
Maison Auvigue Macon Fuissé
These can be paired with Champagnes for their acidity and texture and likewise Cremants or if a red is more in line with the rest of the dish a Pinot Noir or an Italian Nebbiolo. A crisp Rosé with grilled Sardines is a beautiful match on a summer’s day.
Il Caggio Pinot Grigio Rosé
In general delicately flavoured Fish Cakes go well with a steely Chablis.
Domaines des Malandes Chablis
The creamy sauce of Fish Pie is the dominant flavour in this dish and it should be matched with a Chardonnay.
Auvigue Pouilly Fuissé
A hearty fish stew could cope well with either a dry French Rosé or even a lightly oaked white Rioja.
This will need something capable of matching the intense and sometimes smoky flavours, a Maçon Charnay or a Californian or South African Chardonnay. The subtle use of oak in a white will complement any smokier fish well.
Jordan Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
Again matching the oiliness of the dish with a more acidic white shows why Champagne is often the go to choice with either of these dishes. An alternative would be a dry Alsace or German white.
René Jolly Blanc de Noirs Champagne, Villa Wolf Pinot Gris
In these dishes freshness is the key they can be matched with fresh flavoured Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand or the Loire, or perhaps a dryer Muscadet. If either dish is accompanied by heat from Wasabi or Chilli a German Riesling Kabinett or a Gewürztraminer will also work well.
Snapper Rock Sauvignon Blanc
Champagne is again the easy match and if you have spent well on the Caviar you might want to try a vintage Champagne or English Sparkling wine to set it off to its full advantage.
If in batter a high acidity white wine such as an Albarino would do very well as would a dry white sparkling or how about a white Verdejo.
Like many fish dishes, most shellfish has a fairly delicate flavour, so it is the style of cooking that should determine your choice of wine. In very general terms though a Chablis or Muscadet will suit those simply prepared dishes and a white Burgundy for more richly prepared dishes.
Maison Auvigue Pouilly Fuissé ‘La Frèrie’
With its distinctive flavours crab works well with a fruity and weighty wine like a Viognier or Marsanne Rousanne blend.
Domaine des Aspes Viognier
You could match the creamy-chewy flesh of Langoustines and Prawns with a White Burgundy or on the other hand contrast it with a more acidic Italian white such as a Pinot Grigio or Soave. Champagne offers both the acidity and creaminess of each of these shellfish so is another easy choice. Lobster Mayonnaise again pairs well with a French Chardonnay based wine such as a Pouilly Fuissé or a Meursault.
Maison Auvigue Macon Fuissé Le Moulin du Pont
The briny, salty, steely flavours of oysters require crispy, dry, stony, minerally or flinty wines such as a Pouilly Fumé, a Champagne or a classic Chablis. In the South of France the Languedoc’s choice of wine to match Oysters is a Picpoul de Pinet.
Caves de Montagnac Terres Rouges Picpoul de Pinet
On their own Scallops would be well complemented with a Spanish Albarino, although if served with chilli and garlic a Grüner Veltliner would suit better.
Jurtschitsch Gruner Veltliner Terrassen 2013
Moules Mariniere is perfect with a Muscadet that has been aged on its lees or again a white Graves to match the creaminess of the mussels themselves.
Domaine des Amoureux Muscadet sur Lie
Classic Paella recipes can vary greatly according to the region they have originated in, but generally speaking a Paella will have enough flavours – for example with the inclusion of spicy chorizo etc to warrant a rosé or even red wine. The fish used is also not always the dominant flavour and the savoury rather than sweeter elements come to the fore. A chilled, dry Spanish rosé would work excellently as would a medium bodied Tempranillo.
Pio Del Ramo Betola B Blanco, Lacruz Tempranillo
The herbaceous notes of French Sauvignon Blanc work well with those of asparagus, although if it is to be served with a buttery sauce like hollandaise you should match the wine to the sauce, a rich White Burgundy in this case.
Les Charmettes Sauvignon Blanc
On its own or as the lead ingredient in a dish or salad These can be difficult to pair as often will make an accompanying wine taste sweeter, this can be ameliorated by a creamier or oilier sauce or grilling. Pouilly Fumé, Blanc de Blanc Brut Champagne can serve or if served with Hollandaise sauce an unoaked Chardonnay will also work well.
Jordan Unwooded Chardonnay
On its own or as a lead ingredient in a salad. Again the acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc would work well with the natural rich oiliness of an avocado, or also a good Chablis.
Pierre Martin Cul de Beaujeu Sancerre
Full-flavoured Ratatouilles go surprisingly well with aromatic New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.
Two Rivers Sauvignon Blanc
These are intensely flavoured and go particularly well with Tempranillo-based wines. Alternatively, for a White choose an Australian Semillon or German Riesling Spätlese.
First Drop Pintor Tempranillo
An Italian Barbera or South African Pinotage share the ripe fruit and rusticity to mean they both pair well with roasted vegetables.
Amalia Barbera d’Alba
This is a ‘meaty’ vegetable and goes best with full-flavoured Reds. Try a New World Merlot or a Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Narrow Valley Merlot, Château Mont-Thabor Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Fresh, ripe tomatoes in salads are very acidic and would in the majority of cases pair well with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Snapper Rock Sauvignon Blanc,
These form the base of many pasta sauces, pizza bases and stews in a number of different cuisines raising the acidity of each. The wine to match these must therefore be high in its own acidity and sufficiently fruity to maintain interest, whilst keeping an eye on any other strong flavours or textures in the dish. A Barbera d’Asti, Chianti, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo would work well.
Il Caggio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
The tomato based sauce of pizza works best with Italian reds such as a Barbera – why not try an Aussie take on them?
The Big Blind
These two blue cheeses share the salty characteristics that mean that a pairing with a good sweet Sauternes is a match made in heaven. Likewise the traditional choice of a rich Port brings another dimension to the taste.
Quinta do Portal 29 Grapes Reserve
Gorgonzola is not easy to match but an aged Tawny Port would work well.
Portal 6 Barrels Tawny Port
Mild creamy cheeses like Cambozola work also quite well with a Sauternes or other sweet wines.
Château Lafaurie Peyraguey 1er Cru
Dolcelatte being that bit stronger would work with a fruity style rosé or juicy red.
Il Caggio Montepulciano
Works very well with Sauvignon Blanc in general, and French Sancerres or New Zealand Sauvignons all go brilliantly.
For harder cheeses red wines now come into their own, a medium bodied red such as a mature Bordeaux or Priorat is a good match although once again a full bodied Chardonnay will do equally as well.
Mimolette is the perfect partner to a Chianti or Sangiovese.
Il Caggio Chianti
Mouth-coating soft cheeses can present problems when matching with red wines but a lighter and lower tannin style would work well such as a red Burgundy.
Here the Chardonnay variety comes into its own and a full white Burgundy would suit well.
Domaine des Malandes Chablis
A fruitier New World Cabernet Sauvignon would fit the bill here, the Cauliflower itself becomes a far more subtle flavour when paired with the stronger cheese which then takes the lead.
Potentially a dish with lots of punch it might throw up some challenges to anything too tannic with its inherent creaminess, a right bank Merlot led Bordeaux or Vin de Pays Merlot might therefore be the perfect match.
Try pairing with nutty fortified examples, whose depth both complements and cuts through the richness of milk chocolate, you might choose a Rutherglen Muscat or even a sweet Oloroso sherry.
Stanton and Killeen Rutherglen Muscat
These will be defined by how they are cooked, in wine or syrup, ginger etc and how sweetly they are flavoured.
Either look for a dry red soft and fruity wine with a rich, chocolate texture and flavour like a Carmenere or Amarone della Valpolicella a Tawny Port, Ginger Liqueur or Malt Whisky.
Fabiano Amarone della Valpolicella
This is probably the most difficult to match with a wine although a good Muscat would come close, otherwise a berry flavoured liqueur might work better, for example a Briottet Liqueur de Framboise.
Briottet Crème de Framboise
Profiteroles served with cream and chocolate sauce, or Chocolate Ice Cream would both match with a rich, sweet Rutherglen Muscat.
Stanton and Killeen Rutherglen Muscat
The really rich, heavy chocolate dishes need an equally intense and sweet perhaps berry Liqueur or Tawny Port.
Briottet Crème de cassis de Dijon
Again a Sauternes would be delicious with both of these classic and creamy French desserts.
Château Lafarge Peyraguey
It is a versatile dessert and fruit, coffee or nut liqueurs would all work well, even poured as a sauce over the ice cream, to complement anything it is being served with.
Home made custard works very well with Muscats, but again remember to follow the dominant taste if it is being served with a stronger tasting pudding.
Both of these puddings ooze sweetness so a Vin Santo del Chianti dried fruit aromas would work well especially complementing the toastier flavours in these.
Apple Pie and fruit pies or tarts perfect with very sweet Gewürtztraminer or a Botrytis Riesling or to throw the sweetness into relief a calvados.
Berneroy AOC Calvados Fine
Both Lemon Tart and Lemon Meringue Pie are already offsetting some of their sweetness with the acidity of the lemon and can therefore support a slightly ‘lighter’ sweetness in their wines, a younger Sauternes or New World Muscat would be excellent.
Stanton and Killeen Rutherglen
Fruit Salad or Strawberries are fun to serve with a light sparkling wine, a Prosecco or Cava perhaps.
Both of these fresh and fruitful puddings would work well with a young light and slightly chilled Beaujolais Villages.
Domaine Franc Pierre Beaujolais Villages
Another taker for a perfect Sauternes match or a lighter Monbazillac.
An often very sweet dessert which could be complemented by a Rutherglen Topaque, with its more tropical and sweet notes.
Stanton and Killeen Topaque
A Rutherglen Muscat has all the rich dried fruit flavours and sweetness to make this a perfect match for either a pudding or a cake at Christmas.
Stanton and Killeen Classic Rutherglen Muscat
Both of these desserts could easily be overwhelmed by any wine, although remember a flavoured liqueur can always be used as a sauce with a lighter sorbet.