Basic guidelines apply when pairing wine with food. However, no one perfect wine match exists for any particular food, despite what some wine experts might say. Though the traditional rules of wine pairing have some weight, ignoring wine pairing rules is OK; be sure to drink what you like. With some consideration of food and wine flavor profiles, you can make a great match.
Using the Traditional Wine Rules
The traditional rules would dictate that white wines should be paired with fish and white meats, while red wines should be paired with boldly flavored red meats, like steak. However, if you do not like red wine, you should not think that you cannot enjoy your steak with a white wine. Rather than following specific rules for wine and food pairings, think about ignoring wine pairing rules and instead following some general guidelines that can help you match the flavors of your wine to your food:
- Consider the weight of the wine and the dish: Pair bolder flavored wine with food that also has bold flavor to ensure each element can stand up to the other.
- Don’t forget that sauces can contribute strong flavors to a dish, and matching the wine to the sauce or spice can be more important than matching it to the protein.
- Match or contrast flavors, including acidity, spice and fruit notes.
Finally, remember that price is a valid guideline, but the idea that a more expensive wine is always a better wine is a myth.
Finding What You Like
You probably know at least a few wines that you enjoy drinking on a regular basis. However, you may not know how to expand your repertoire of wine types. Look into wine tastings in your area to have an opportunity to try new wines without the commitment of buying a whole bottle. You can also consider trying the wine pairing recommendations listed on restaurant menus, or those suggested by your server. Branching out in a restaurant will allow you to try a single glass of wine with food pairings that accentuate it, which will bring out its best qualities.