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How to Pair Wines

Created January 26, 2017

Wind down with the perfect wine and dish combo.

Is your idea of pairing food and wine buying a bottle because the color of the label will look adorbs on the table inbetween your centerpiece and the veggies on the plate? Don’t you just wish you could be a sommelier (fancy talk for wine expert) and be able to accompany that dish you just cooked with the right glass of vino? Well, here’s the sitch: You can! Of course, there are a few guidelines to help you pick the perfect pairing, but it really all boils down to your personal taste.

Are you a complementor or a contrastor?

We all have different taste preferences – the classic taste buds would prefer to complement flavors, but the gutsy ones would rather explore and contrast, finding notes in their wine that will go against the taste of the dish. Whichever you are, you need to remember the universal pairing principle: You can complement or contrast, as long as the food and the wine do not mask each other’s unique flavors and characteristics.

The Elements

We’re not talking about Captain Planet here folks – when we say The Elements, we mean the weight, flavor intensity, taste and smell of the wine. Is it heavy, medium or light-bodied? Is the flavor weak, moderate or strong? Is the smell earthy, fruity or herbal? And when it comes to the taste, is it sweet, spicy, acidic, sour or bitter? Once you’ve explored these characteristics, think about the flavor profile of the dish you’ll be serving and whether the wine will overpower the meal or be the perfect buddy to create a symphony of flavors.

Ready, Set, Vino!

Another element to consider? The protein in your dish. It’s also a good idea to take into consideration the type of meat or protein that you’ll be devouring before dropping some g’s on a bottle. Try these combos out!

Crunchy Garlic Chicken – Chardonnays and lighter reds such as Burgundy and Riojas

Grilled Halibut with Mango Sauce – Light medium bodied whites such as Pinot Grigio or Chablis

Fettuccine with Fennel and Spicy Sausage– Chianti, Zinfandel, Pinot Blanc

Seafood-Spinach Lasagna – Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio

Slow Cooker Cioppino  – Crisp, acidic wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or the bubbly (champagne)

Espresso-Rubbed Steaks – Full-bodied red such as Cabernet or Bordeaux