A very often-asked question when you are planning for a dinner: what kind of wine should I pair the food with? Below are few simple rules that we hope would come handy for you.
Sweet foods with sweet wines – observe the degree of sweetness and find something similar. For instance, a somewhat sweet dish at lunch like a honey-glazed ham will be right for an off-dry Riesling. For dessert, the wine should be slightly sweeter than the dish. (By the way, the colder the dessert, the more alcoholic the wine should be.)
Rich foods with rich wines – let the power join forces. Roast, fried, grilled foods go well with wines fermented or matured in oak barrels due to their common aromatic compounds. Grilled beef or lamb goes very well with full-bodied red tannic wine like Cabernet Sauvignon.
Light foods with light wines – match the intensity and strike a balance. For instance, tomato salad goes well with Pinot Grigio while a cheese puff pastry can be paired with Chardonnay. Light food would not make a heavy wine taste bad per se, but would appear odd and imbalance. Salmon, while “heavy” for a fish, goes well with red wine like Pinot Noir, which is “light” for red wine.
Acidic foods with acidic wines – an acidic wine could taste very sour if the food is not acidic enough. For example, salad with a vinegar-based dressing would go better with Sauvignon Blanc.
You see a pattern here. You first identify the most expressive components of the dish, and then pick a wine that would go in balance. Consider a dish like grilled fish with creamy sauce: while fish is light meat, the sauce will have a dominant impact on the taste, thus an oaky Chardonnay would be better.
While the classic answer of “white wine goes with white meat, red wine goes with red meat” is somewhat true, our suggestion is even simpler: Like for Like.
There are many other interesting and exotic combinations; the best way to explore the magic of food-and-wine pairing is through your own experiment.