How To Pair Wine With Food?

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By: Tom Valenti


Pairing wine with food is a fun and delicious way to enhance any meal. With the right combination of flavors, you can take your next gathering or dinner party to the next level.

So, What is wine pairing? At its core, wine pairing is simply the process of matching the right type of wine with a particular food.

However, understanding what wines go best with different types of foods can be overwhelming for even the most experienced connoisseur. Luckily, with a few basic tips, you can easily learn how to pair wine with food like a pro.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about pairing the right wines with your favorite meals!


Why It is Important to Pair Wine With Food?

Why It is Important to Pair Wine With Food

Pairing wine with food is important because it amplifies the flavor of your meal, allowing for more enjoyable eating experiences. Moreover, it allows for a greater appreciation for the different nuances of wine and food when they’re combined.

On the other hand, pairing a less-than-perfect wine with food can ruin the entire experience.

This is why it’s important to take the time to find the right match – one that will help bring out all of the delicious flavors in your meal. 

Flavor Profiles To Consider for Wine Pairings

Fundamental Components Flavorings in Wine

Wine typically lacks the tastes of fatness, spiciness, and saltiness. However, it contains distinct components of acidity, sweetness, and bitterness, which vary in intensity according to the type of wine:

  • Red wine has a stronger bitterness. 
  • White, rosé, and sparkling wines have higher acidity.
  • Sweet wines have more sweetness.

Fundamental Components Flavorings in Food

Food contains 6 main components: fatness, spiciness, saltiness, acidity, sweetness, and bitterness. 

  • Fatness is found in many dishes, especially those with high levels of butter and cream.
  • Spiciness is often used as a flavor enhancer in sauces, stews, and marinades.
  • Saltiness comes from the addition of salt or other salty ingredients, such as soy sauce.
  • Acidity is present in most fruits and vegetables, providing an intense flavor.
  • Sweetness is found in many desserts and can also be present in some savory dishes when added from ingredients such as honey are present.
  • Bitterness can add depth of flavor to a dish but should be used sparingly.

How to Pair Wine With Food?

There are many ways to pair wine with food, which can make it difficult to know where to start. In general, there are two broad categories:  Congruent Pairings and Contrasting Pairings.

Congruent Pairings

Congruent pairings are when the food and wine share similar flavor profiles. It means, the flavors in the wine should enhance and complement the flavors of the food.

For example, if you were serving a dish with lemon, garlic, and butter sauce, you would want to find a white wine that also has notes of lemon, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, to help bring out the flavors from the dish.

Contrasting Pairings

On the other hand,  a contrasting pairing is when the wine and food have opposing flavors. This type of pairing can cut through strong flavors or balance out sweet and salty tastes to help bring out the unique nuances of each one, creating an enjoyable combination.

For example, if you are serving a rich, creamy pasta dish with lots of cheese and butter, you might choose a crisp white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc that can help cut through the richness and provide a clean finish.

Some Tips for Pairing  Wine With Food

Some Tips for Pairing  Wine With Food

When pairing wine with food, there are no hard and fast rules. However, here are some tips that can help you find the perfect match:

  1. The acidity of the wine should be higher than that of the food.
  2. The sweetness of the wine should be greater than that of the food.
  3. The flavor intensity of the wine should be comparable to that of the food.
  4. Red wines typically create congruent pairings. For example, it pairs best with bold-flavored meats like red meat.
  5. Bitter wines (eg, red wines) are best paired with fatty foods.
  6. White, sparkling, and rosé wines often create contrasting pairings.
  7. White wines are ideal for lighter-intensity meats, like fish and chicken.
  8. It is better to pair the wine with the sauce than the meat.


What Is The Most Difficult Food to Pair With Wine?

The most difficult food to pair with wine is Artichokes, as their unique flavor can clash with the taste of wine. Even experienced sommeliers may find this combination difficult to master.

Which Food Should Not Pair With Wine?

Generally, food with strong flavors such as curry and other heavily spiced dishes, should not be paired with wine. Also, extremely acidic or salty foods should also be avoided when choosing a wine pairing.

How Do You Pair Wine For Dinner?

When pairing wine for dinner, start by selecting a white wine to go with appetizers and lighter dishes. Then select a red or sparkling wine to pair with the main course. For dessert, choose either a sweet white or fortified red.

What Is The Best Thing to Eat Before Drinking Wine?

Our bodies can become depleted in potassium when we drink alcohol, especially if we overindulge. To help replenish our body’s potassium levels before drinking wine, it is best to eat foods that are rich in potassium, such as spinach, avocado, potatoes, lentils, milk, and yogurt. Eating these types of foods prior to drinking can help ensure that your body stays properly balanced.

Are Pasta and Wine a Good Combination?

Yes, pasta and wine can make a great combination. The high acidity of white wines pairs well with tomato-based sauces, while the tannins in red wines pair nicely with cream-based sauces. Also, pasta dishes made with seafood and vegetables taste great when paired with light-bodied white wines such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.


In conclusion, pairing wine with food is an art and a science. It takes practice to find the perfect combination, but with these tips in mind, you can ensure that every meal goes perfectly with the right glass of wine.

By taking the time to explore different wines and foods, you will be able to develop your palate and discover new favorites. With some experimentation and patience, you can create incredible pairings that complement each other and bring out the best in the food and wine.

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Tom Valenti

Chef/Owner of both Ouest and ‘Cesca, and the Executive Chef of Le Cirque, Alison on Dominick, and Butterfield 81.

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