Food and Wine Pairings

Have you ever been to a wine and food pairing dinner? I feel like my experiences start with the food choices first and then the wine. You may have started out with a white wine with salad, a red wine with the main course, and a sweet wine with dessert. Let’s now try a different way by listing a variety of wines and pairing them together with a suggested food list.

What Pairs Well with White Wines?

Yes, that is a very generalized question. Whites can be crisp and dry or sweetly smooth. You don’t want a white wine to overpower the food or vice versa.

Here are a few ideas to try:

  • Chardonnay – mild and creamy cheeses, pesto or cheesy pasta dishes, butter-based dishes, white fish and vegetables, creme brûlée, vanilla desserts
  • Pinot Grigio – mozzarella, feta, cheddar, citrus flavors, chicken, cod, tilapia, shellfish, shrimp, creme brûlée, berry or lemon pie
  • Savion Blanc – goat cheese, green vegetables like asparagus, oysters, risotto, herbs, passion fruit, or lemon dessert

What Pairs Well with Red Wines?

I think of bold, strong wines from our very own California, but reds can be gentle and soft. As you may have experienced, it depends on the varietal and region. The reds with high tannins can be paired with the higher fat-content foods maintaining the flavor profile in both.

Here is a blanket list for you to consider:

  • Merlot – filet mignon, grilled hamburger, lasagna, meat sauce pasta dishes, gravy, tomato,  pepper, and curry dishes, darker fruits or dark chocolate
  • Pinot Noir – pork, wild game, crackers and goat cheese (again), salami, dried fruits, walnut, pizza, chicken, salted caramel, dark chocolate
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – Prime Rib, NY Strip, Bacon-wrapped jalapeños, sheep cheese, short ribs, aged meats, cheeses, dark chocolate.

What about Rose?

It seems to have had a resurgence from its ancient roots, some coming from Long Island in America and, as always, France and California. What should be paired with this lighter version of wine, considering its sometimes sweet and dry flavors?

Rosé – salmon, pesto, vegetables, soft cheeses, charcuterie board, humus, flatbread pizzas

Champagne or Sparkling Wines can be dry but always bubbly. They feel like a treat just drinking them. Here are some recommended foods for pairing.

Sparkling Wines – scrambled or deviled eggs, olives, egg rolls, duck fat fries, creamy mushroom pasta, lobster, potato chips, Tiramisu.

There is so much to learn about wine pairings. I feel like what makes sense is to balance the right mix of tannins which absorb the rich food, and find white wines that will enhance the lighter flavors. My one piece of advice is to try out what works for your unique taste buds. Enjoy!

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