How to Pair Food and Wine Correctly


Pairing food with wine correctly doesn’t seem like a difficult task, however, many people still manage to get it wrong. The chart seems simple: white does with fish, and red complements meat and cheese. Yet, what about the specific wines within the categories of red wine, white wine or sparkling wine? Serving a Riesling with hard cheese wouldn’t go down well; yet, if you pair it with a soft cheese it’s a match made in heaven.

If you’re looking to host a superb dinner party, a budding chef or simply hoping to improve your tasting palette and wine pairing skills, read the following.

White Wines

Usually, white wines tend to pair better with lighter foods such as fish and green vegetables. However, if you further split white wines into different tasting categories, you’ll find the umbrella for white wines has significantly broadened.

Red Wines

Due to red wines being fuller and bolder than white wines, they’re usually used to complement red meat and cured or smoked meats. A bottle of red is also introduced with a cheeseboard, too. Additionally, people think chocolate and red wine is a perfect match, however, experts have said this palette combination is too bitter.

Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines pair with a wide variety of foods because Cava, Prosecco and Champagne can act as a palette cleanser.

However, to get the pairings completely correct, you should further categorise white, red and sparkling wines. Doing so means your flavour pairings will become on point, making your meal all more delicious. If you’re also looking for ways on how to get into the wine business, the below can help you understand wine and food pairing even further. For those wishing to pursue a career in viticulture, gastronomy and wine pairing, Le Cordon Bleu offer diplomas and courses for those interested.

Light, Dry White Wines

Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino and Pinot Grigio.

For the perfect pairing, pair the above wines with fresh, green vegetables, roasted vegetables, carbs or fish such as cod or plaice.

Sweet Whites

Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Moscato.

Sweet wines complement soft cheeses such as brie and goats cheese; carbs, desserts, and most surprisingly, cured and smoked meats.

Rich, Full-Bodied Whites

Chardonnay, Oaked Whites.

Pair with roasted vegetables; however, avoid fresh greens and light fish. Instead, pour with rich fish such as crab, and white meats like chicken. Rich whites also work well with carbs.

Sparkling Wine

Champagne, Cava, Prosecco.

As previously stated, sparkling wine can act as a palette cleanser, however, it still should only be paired with light foods such as fresh vegetables, soft and hard cheeses, carbs, and light, white fish.

Light Red

Pinot Noir, Grenache, Pinotage.

Serve with roasted, heavier vegetables, carbs, rich fish and white meats. Avoid red meats as these reds are too light. No red wine should be served with desserts.

Medium Red

Merlot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc.

Complements cured and smoked meats, as well as red and white meats. Also pairs well with carbs and hard cheese.

Big, Full-Bodied Red

Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Zinfandel.

Ideal for hard cheese, carbs, white and red meat, and cured and smoked meats.

Dessert Wine

Port, Sherry, Tokaji.

Usually paired with desserts, however, it can also complement cured and smoked meat and soft cheeses.

Wine pairing is an art. However, make sure to remember that beer and food must also be paired correctly.