There is much debate about food and wine pairings. Once upon a time, there were strict rules about eating fish with any wine other than a white. The lines are blurred now, with more light reds available and the adventurous recipes out there. The important part of pairing wine with food is getting the flavors and elements right. So, we’re going to run down the basics for you. The next time you have a dinner party, you can impress your friends with your skills.
The important thing to remember is that every dish has multiple components. So, you may plan to pair your wine with the meat you are cooking, but there is more to it than that. What about the side dishes and the herbs and spices you plan to use? You have to decide what you’re matching to what.
The Popular Reds
The cab is the perfect choice for hearty dishes like beef and lamb. It tends to be full-bodied (though medium cab sauvignons are available) so it’s ideal for complex recipes like coq au vin. Grenache is another excellent option for hearty dishes. If you plan to cook game or create a rustic dish, then you may want to look at a Grenache.
If you plan to barbecue, consider a slightly chilled Gamay. This French red is the perfect accompaniment to spicy sausages, barbecued fish, and even vegetables.
There is nothing quite like a delicious steak to go with your marvelous Malbec. This dark, fruity delight is the perfect balance to a steak and potatoes meal. A Merlot is a great option when you plan to make a major meal like roast chicken, duck, turkey or a winter casserole.
Zinfandel can be medium or full-bodied, and it is perfect for hearty dishes like roast venison.
The Lesser Known Reds
The Italian Nebbiolo is an interesting one. If you are cooking rich dishes, then the Barolo is perfect, but Barbaresco is ideal for antipasto. Another delightful red from Italy is the Negroamaro. This bitter black wine comes from Italy’s southern heel and it’s the perfect match for spicy sausages and pasta bakes.
If you want a wine that can do it all, look no further than the Pinot Noir. This medium bodied beauty pairs well with roasted meats like lamb and turkey. It’s also the perfect option for wine and cheese night. If you love rough oat cakes and mild, creamy soft cheeses – choose Pinot Noir.
If you plan to barbecue spare ribs, steaks, and/or sausages, consider a Pinotage. The Sangiovese is the best way to enjoy your pepperoni pizza. It’s an ideal pairing with pasta and rich meat sauces. The Syrah (or Shiraz) is a full-bodied wine perfect for roasted vegetables, grilled steaks, and winter warmers.
Finally, Tempranillo. This dark cherry flavored wine originated in Spain it’s ideal for vegetarian main courses, as well as roast lamb.
If you’re working with vegetable dishes or dark leafy greens, then consider choosing a red wine that is light and delicate. They’re fruity enough to cut through acidic greens. If you’re working with chewy food, choose a bold red. Typically, you should opt for a lighter wine if you are eating lean meat. However, you can pair bold reds with dishes heavy on tomatoes, oily fish or vegetarian stews.