Wine is a natural
accompaniment to food. Wine chemistry helps to soothe the
psyche, appetize and refresh the palate, and assist with
digestion. Some combinations of wine and food are more
successful than others. The important operative wisdom is
to eat and drink what you like.
Attempts to set down a
complex list of "rules" for matching food to wine are
ill-advised; the myriad variables of preparations,
spices, sauces, side dishes, etc., along with individual
palate and preference, make rules impossible. That being
said, we'll step into the quagmire and share some
generalities that guide us well...
If the food flavors are
complex, keep the wine simple. If the wine is complex,
straightforward and simple food preparation will allow
the wine to show off.
Matching the general flavor profile
of the wine with that of the food usually works. Keep the categories
When flavor elements mix in the food,
try the same combination in wine. Tomato sauces, for example, usually
combine both sweet and sour flavors, so try wines that have both fruity
and tart complexities. This is not an exclusive or hard-and-fast system
by any means; there are other combinations that may work just fine
and serendipitous surprises are always palate-thrilling, but this
chart can be a good starting point.
a particular flavor element in wine may be echoed by one in the food,
but these pinpoint matches have an element of risk. A hint of cinnamon,
for instance, can work wonders with some, but not all, Pinot Noirs.
Best try any combinations you think might work first, before committing
to guests or large gatherings.
WINES are very all-purpose. Bubbles are a great refresher and palate
cleanser. These wines are especially good with savory foods. Want
a treat? ... try sparkling wine with pizza!
DRY WHITES are a good all-purpose category. Dry whites with little
or no oak will harmonize with a wide variety of dishes.
DRY WHITES are good matches for foods that have cream or butter-based
sauces. Some oak here is usually all right.
FRUITY WHITES work with delicate foods, such as trout.
FRUITY WHITES are the best choice for spicy (hot) cuisine, such as
some Asian or Mexican dishes. Be careful trying to match sweet wines
with sweet desserts - the sweetness levels need to be very similar.
REDS or RICH REDS are another good all-purpose category. They are
fine with roasts and stews, fowl, and light meats. Many will even
work with meaty fish, like salmon, swordfish, or halibut.
TANNIC REDS are reserved for steaks, chops and charred dishes. They
also handle acidic foods, like tomato sauce, and take the edge away
from bitter greens.
free to experiment. Learn what works for your palate. As we said in
the beginning, the important operative wisdom is to eat and drink
what you like.
We welcome reader contributions to help grow this
than trying to simplify the complex art of matching wine
and food, we share specific matches that work for