Food and Wine Pairing
There are no hard-and-fast rules to food and wine pairing, but there are some easy-to-remember guidelines that will help you learn what is best for your palate.
- Look to match the body of the wine with the heaviness of the food.
- Rich, full-bodied red wines will pair better with richly prepared dishes. Light to medium-bodied white wines will complement light salads and entrées.
- Regional cuisine is always best with wines from the same region; for example, wines such as Chianti will pair best with foods and food styles of that region.
- When pairing with desserts, the food should not be sweeter than the wine.
- Full-bodied red wines pair better with meats, due to their high tannins. The tannins balance well with the fat content of the meats.
- White wines with acidity pair well with foods that have been seasoned or accented with citrus.
- Complementing or contrasting flavors can make any meal an exciting experiment.
- Be adventurous and trust your palate.
Champagne & Sparkling Wines
Nearly all wine-producing countries produce a version of sparkling wine - champagnes in France, cavas in Spain, proseccos in Italy, sekt in Germany - but there is no question that champagne is the most famous of the group. Sparkling wines are extremely versatile for celebrations and festivities, but are often overlooked for day-to-day consumption. Their aromas of stone fruits and citrus, with a touch of oak and vanilla, are balanced with crisp acidity, making them perfect for pairing with cheeses, appetizers and lightly dressed salads.
There has never been a better time for red wine lovers. In today's market the sheer volume, quality and diversity of red wines is at its peak. From the traditional Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone varietals, now grown in both New World and Old World regions, to the emerging red wines of South Africa, Spain, Portugal and Greece, there is a style of red wine for everyone, from lovers of soft fruity wines, to advocates of hearty, spicy reds, to fans of bold and sassy cabernets.
Although the chardonnay grape continues to dominate white wine sales (and is reinventing itself in the process as "unoaked" chardonnay), there are a number of less familiar white grapes making headway in the market. The lovely white wines from the Rhone Valley (roussane, viognier and marsanne) have found a new home on the central coast of California. New Zealand and South Africa offer sauvignon blanc wines to rival California's best. And the explosive growth of Pinot Gris/Grigio from Italy, as well as Oregon and California, cannot go unnoticed.
Rosé wines are light, crisp, fruit-driven wines made from red wine grapes, such as zinfandel, syrah, grenache, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. Traditionally served during the warm summer months throughout nearly all grape-growing regions, these versatile wines now have a place at the dining table year-round.