Pairing Food and Wine

So far, Rusty and I have offered several examples of foods that pair well with each of our “Must-Try Wine of the Week” posts. But what about the myriad other foods we eat and wines we drink?

I know what you’re thinking. There must be an all-encompassing chart or table to tell you what food works with what wine, right? Well, yes—and no. Indeed, there are plenty of primers that purport to describe the perfect wine/food combinations. But the problem is that we all have different tastes. Therefore, what’s good for the goose just might not be good for the grouse...or something like that. So, let’s take a look at the basics, something beyond the trite “white with fish, and red with meat.”

Lighter Foods:
This category might include: lighter fish dishes, most shellfish, some pastas (with lighter sauces) and many salads (with lighter dressings).

Wine pairings to consider:

  • Whites from dry (Chablis) to slightly sweet (riesling). Wines such as pinot grigio (California); pinot blanc (Alsace); Muscadet (France, and ideal with oysters), German rieslings (kabinett or spatlese); or Champagne. By the way, Champagne was a terrific choice with the tagliatelle with chanterelles photographed above.
  • Those foods are also good with reds that are lighter in weight, such as: Chianti, Beaujolais, or a lighter pinot noir.

Medium Foods
- This might include: veal, heartier fish like salmon or swordfish, duck, chicken and game fowl, slightly heavier pasta/sauce combinations, and zestier salads.

Wine pairings to consider:

  • Whites that have some weight, such as: sauvignon blanc (New Zealand, California, South Africa); chardonnay (California, white Burgundies from France), and gruner (Austria).
  • Reds, such as pinot noir (worldwide); Burgundy (France); Cotes du Rhone (France); Brunello di Montalcino (Sangiovese, Italy); and Rioja (Spain).

Heavier Foods:
- This might include:* pork, lamb, beef, heartier fish or shellfish (lobster), stews, wild game.

  • Wine pairings to consider: Barolo (Italy); cabernet sauvignon (worldwide); Bordeaux (France); merlot (worldwide); zinfandel (California); syrah (California); and northern Rhone wines (France).