Paring Food


What to eat with which wine...
The following suggestions for selecting food for a specific wine are based on the custom and culture of the wine regions producing each variety, as well as the level of acidity, protein, fat, salt and sugar in the food, each of which affects the taste of a wine, and can either complement it... or not.

Cabernet-based wines and Red Bordeaux (Bordeaux, France):
Best for hearty, meaty foods with little or no acid; “tannic” herbs OK (e.g., thyme and tarragon). Leg, shoulder, saddle or rack of lamb roast; porterhouse, New York or filet mignon steak; rib eye roast; duck or goose roast or confit. Denser, fatty and aged cheeses; Brie, Camembert.

Grenache (France, i.e., Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Côte du Rhône; Spain; California):
Plain or marinated grilled meat; poultry, sausage and vegetables with rustic/hearty seasonings; spicy Asian beef; ratatouille; hard goat or sheep milk cheese; aged cheddar.

Malbec (Argentina, California, France):
Steak, roast beef, beef stew, roast turkey (dark meat), grilled or roast duck, dishes with tomato sauce containing meat (pasta Bolognese, lasagna), pizza, Mexican chicken mole, enchiladas, Hamburger.

Merlot (St. Émilion/Pomerol):
Beef and lamb roast (including cold/rare), venison, grilled top sirloin steak, roast or grilled chicken, grilled salmon/swordfish/tuna, foods with mint or rosemary, dark chocolate. Avoid too much garlic or heavy cream sauces.

Pinot Noir (Burgundy):
Roast chicken, rabbit, veal, pork, duck or goose, especially with Burgundy wine sauce; grilled tuna or salmon; beef Bourguignon (braised in Pinot Noir), Asian meat dishes (not spicy); pasta, risotto or chicken with mushrooms; fresh goat cheese (for lighter Pinots), Reblochon (washed rind cheese).

Sangiovese (Chianti, Central Italy):
Roast pork and dark meat chicken, ham, T-bone steak, anything in tomato sauce (pasta, pizza, etc., especially with meat – Bolognese), braised beef  (osso bucco), risotto, grilled vegetables, Italian sausage, grilled lamb chops with rosemary, foods with garlic or bacon.

Syrah/Shiraz (Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie):
Grilled or roast beef, venison, pork, turkey, game meat and birds, especially with thyme or sage; peppered steak or meat cooked in wine; BBQ and teriyaki beef (if not too sweet); pizza with spicy sausage; aged goat cheese, Manchego cheese (for more mature Syrahs).

Tempranillo (Rioja):
Rich flavored roasted or grilled meats such as lamb, mutton, wild boar, hare, whole suckling pig; air-cured ham (Serrano); dishes with asparagus or bell pepper; chorizo and potato stew; sausage with lentils; meatloaf; hamburgers.

Zinfandel/Primativo (California):
Gourmet hamburgers, marinated spare ribs, pot roast, grilled chicken, grilled vegetables (especially eggplant and zucchini), pizza with sausage and pepperoni, pasta with meat sauce, chili con carne, enchiladas, spicy Asian meats, BBQ and teriyaki beef (if not too sweet).

Chardonnay (Burgundy, Chablis) :
Whitefish, sole, flounder, halibut, cod, swordfish, salmon, sautéed or steamed shellfish, lobster, roast veal or chicken, baked ham, pasta with seafood or chicken breast, Caesar salad. Grilled and rich items best with oaked Chardonnay; raw oysters( with Chablis), sautéed, smoked (salmon), pasta carbonara.

Chenin Blanc (Loire Valley):
Shrimp, prawns, lobster, oysters, shellfish, grilled or pan fried trout, sushi or sashimi; spicy vegetable and chicken dishes (for the sweeter styles of Chenin Blanc), goat cheese.

Gewürztraminer (Alsace):
Whitefish sautéed or steamed, shrimp and scallop dishes, sushi, grilled sausage, onion/leek tart, cheese soufflé. Munster cheese

Pinot Gris/Grigio (Alsace, Italy, California) medium-bodied:
Pasta dishes with herbs or cream, grilled chicken, scampi, veal or chicken parmigiana or
scaloppini, seafood pasta or seafood stew such as cioppino, fish & chips, Caesar salad with grilled chicken, fennel and mushroom salad, roasted seafood, caramelized onion (e.g., onion tart).

Riesling (Rhine):
Roasted or grilled veal or pork loin, sausage with choucroute, smoked salmon, foie gras,
Peking duck and other sweet or smoked Chinese food, sautéed or steamed white fish, sushi. Mildly spicy Indian dishes (biryani, tandoori, etc.) – best with slightly sweet styles.

Sauvignon Blanc (Bordeaux):
Fish, shrimp or lobster, steamed shellfish, sautéed calamari, sushi or sashimi, fresh oysters, fresh or lightly aged goat cheese, guacamole, fajitas with salsa, asparagus, fresh tomato with basil, quiche, cheesy and pesto pastas, sage butter sauce (dry/grassy Sauv. Blanc only).

Sémillon (Bordeaux):
Whitefish sautéed or steamed, chicken breast with light sauce, chicken satay, roast pork loin, Serrano ham with melon.

Sparkling Wine (Champagne): Caviar, fresh oysters, lobster, gravlax, smoked salmon, prosciutto, sushi, soufflés (savory with brut; sweet with sweeter sparkling wines), scrambled eggs (with salmon), dim sum, Spanish tapas.

Viognier (northern Rhône):
Crab, shrimp, lobster, whitefish dishes with light sauce, Asian stir-fry, spice-rubbed chicken, roast pork with apples/pears, roasted/caramelized bell peppers and winter vegetables (carrots, turnips, etc.).

With dry rosés: Paella, tapas, shrimp in tomato and garlic sauce, Bouillabasse, or Cioppino (seafood stew)gazpacho, tomato salad, salade nicoise, tapenade (black olive paste). Off-dry (sweeter) rosés;  strawberries, raspberry, plum tart.

SELECTING WINE FOR A MENU...Some basic guidelines...
1. White wine is generally served before red.
2. Light-bodied served before full-bodied.
3. Good wine before great.
4. Young before old.
5. Dry before sweet (exceptions: for a first course of foie gras,
    serve a late harvest Sauterne or Gewürztraminer).
6. Rinse mouth with water to cleanse the palate before drinking a
    different wine.
7. Light-bodied wine for a lighter dish; full-bodied wine for
    a richer dish.
8. White wine for fish, shellfish, white meat, poultry, and veal.
9. Red wine for dark meat, chicken, rabbit, tuna, and salmon.
10. White wine for a dish made with a cream sauce.
11. Drink the same type of wine as was used in the cooking of a dish.
12 Sparkling wines may be enjoyed at any time during the meal.


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