Wine and Food Pairings

Wine and food each heighten the enjoyment of the other. The best pairing advice is to enjoy the wine you like with the food you like. Need a bit more advice?

Wine and Food Pairings
The whole purpose for finding good wine and food pairings is simple. Since wine can change the way your food tastes and vice versa, you want to pick a combination that will make the whole dining experience a pleasurable one.

At best, you will find a combination that makes both the wine and the food taste better together than they ever would by themselves (a phenomenon you have to experience for yourself to believe).

At worst, you will find a combination that makes an otherwise great wine or entrée completely unpalatable. You may like garlic toast, and you may like ice cream, but you eat them both at the same time and… I think you get my point.

Before I start mentioning guidelines and pairings I must first express my opinion about rules and wine. Taste is more art than science. Just because something tastes good or bad to you, does not mean that they will taste bad to others.

Take the suggestions for what they are worth, but don’t be afraid to bend the rules to your liking. If it tastes good to you, that’s all that matters. Although, if you’re planning a dinner party, it’s usually best to play it safe and stick with combinations that have proven to be favorable among a wide group of people.

What Can Happen?
Here are a few of the things that can occur when wine and food are consumed together:

Amplified or Diminished Traits – sometimes the acidity, sweetness, or tannin in wine can be amplified or diminished by certain foods.

Overpowering – a strong wine will overpower a delicate dish (and vice versa) creating an unpleasant balance.

Transferring Flavors – the wine can seem to transfer some of its flavors into the meal and vice versa.

New Flavors – sometimes flavors that are not present in either the wine or the food are perceived when consumed together. (Sometimes these are unfavorable metallic or mediciny flavors)

Food and wine are intrinsically linked so choose a wine that complements the meal and brings out the best in the food’s flavors. The guidelines below will steer you in the right direction.

Pair wines and foods of the same flavors

Similar food and wine flavors complement each other. Sole with lemon sauce and Sauvignon Blanc both have citrus flavors.

Pair wines and foods with the same weight/texture

Similarly weighted food and wine complement each other. Food and wine can be light, medium or heavy-bodied. Lobster and Chardonnay are both medium-weight and rich so they complement each other.

Pair wines and foods with the same sweetness level

Wine should be equal to or higher in sugar than the dish. Roasted pork with apple glaze pairs beautifully with Riesling.


Crisp wines balance salty flavors. A crisp Sauvignon Blanc balances salty olives and feta cheese.


Pair the wine to the sauce served.
-Light citrus sauces pair with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
-Heavy cream and mushroom sauces are ideal with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
-Red and meat sauces match Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah.


Match wine to meat, fish or poultry when serving without a sauce. Pinot Noir tastes great with duck.

Spicy Food

Sweeter wines offer relief from spicy foods. Riesling pairs well with Asian cuisines.


Tannic wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon cut through the coating that fat leaves in the mouth. Cabernet pairs great with steak.


Nature has color-coded fruit and vegetables with the wine best suited to their flavors. Sauvignon Blanc is pale yellow and pairs well with citrus.


Wine should be equal to, or higher, in acid than the dish. A perfect example is pairing Pinot Noir with tomato tapenade.


Wine and Food Pairing Examples

Sauvignon Blanc
Light-bodied, crisp wine with fig, lemon and grassy tones.

Food Pairing

Meats & Fish: Lighter entrées such as shellfish, sushi, sole, orange roughy and chicken
Cheese & Nuts: Feta, chévre, pine nuts
Fruits & Vegetables: Citrus fruits, melons, green apples, asparagus
Sauces: All light sauces such as citrus sauce
Grains: White rice, French bread
Desserts: Light, fruity sweets such as sorbet and key lime pie

Medium-bodied, buttery and oaky with vanilla, pineapple, peach and red apple flavors and a smooth finish.

Food Pairing

Meats & Fish: Pork loin, chicken, veal, shrimp, crab and lobster
Cheese & Nuts: Asiago, havarti, mozzarella, almonds
Fruits & Vegetables: Avocado, potato, butternut squash, apples, peaches, mango
Sauces: Creamy, mild and buttery sauces, pesto, tropical salsas
Grains: Risotto, crackers
Desserts: Apple, pecan and key lime pie, yellow and pound cake, banana pudding, caramel swirl ice cream

Light- to medium-bodied with apricot, honeysuckle and pear flavors with a dry finish.

Food Pairing

Meats & Fish: Sweet meats such as pork and smoked turkey, chicken, sea bass, trout and Asian food
Cheese & Nuts: Havarti, Gouda, pecans, candied walnuts
Fruits & Vegetables: Pears, apricots, figs, apples, melon, sweet potato, chili and bell peppers
Sauces: Sweet BBQ, sweet and sour, curry, chutney
Grains: Corn bread, honey bread
Desserts: Pecan pie, apple pie, baked pears, honey and almond-covered cheese, anything with caramel

Pinot Noir
Medium-bodied and silky with red cherry, strawberry and smoky earth tones.

Food Pairing

Meats & Fish: Roasted chicken, tuna, filet mignon, pork, pâté, lamb and mild sausages
Cheese & Nuts: Goat cheese, Brie, walnuts
Fruits & Vegetables: Roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, figs, cherries, strawberries, dried fruit
Sauces: Mushroom sauces, light-medium red sauces
Grains: Olive bread
Desserts: Vanilla pudding, milk chocolate, crème brûlée, strawberries and cream, white chocolate

Heavy-bodied and chewy with black cherry, currant, jammy, spice and tobacco tones.

Food Pairing

Meats & Fish: Roast game, hearty stews, spicy sausages such as pepperoni and salami, salmon
Cheese & Nuts: Strong cheeses such as sharp cheddar, Roquefort and blue cheese, hazelnuts
Fruits & Vegetables: Currants, blackberries, stewed tomatoes, beets, eggplant and dark, leafy greens
Sauces: Heavy red, BBQ and spicy sauces
Grains: Pizza
Desserts: Rhubarb pie, Black Forest cake

Medium- to heavy-bodied, smooth-finishing with black cherry, plum, raspberry and chocolate notes.

Food Pairing

Meats & Fish: Grilled meats, steak, stew, leg of lamb, tuna and swordfish
Cheese & Nuts: Romano, Parmesan, aged chévre, chestnuts
Fruits & Vegetables: Plums, tomatoes, endive, eggplant, black beans, caramelized vegetables
Sauces: Red sauce, bolognese, tomato and béarnaise sauces
Desserts: Dark chocolate sauce, berries, chocolate torte, fondue

Cabernet Sauvignon
Full-bodied with black currant, coffee and dark chocolate notes with a long finish.

Food Pairing

Meats & Fish: Game, ribeye, roasted meats, beef stew, rack of lamb, swordfish and tuna
Cheese & Nuts: Cheddar and all aged cheeses, walnuts
Fruits & Vegetables: Black cherries, plums, tomatoes, broccoli, black olives, dark greens
Sauces: Brown, bolognese, tomato, pasta in a thick red sauce
Grains: Pizza
Desserts: Bittersweet chocolate, berries in dark chocolate sauce, espresso gelato

Medium- to heavy-bodied with blackberry, raspberry, black pepper and smoke tones with a spicy finish.

Food Pairing

Meats & Fish: Grilled sausages, ribs, Cajun spiced fish, cioppino, duck and roasted meats
Cheese & Nuts: Ripe Brie, triple-cream and aged cheeses
Fruits & Vegetables: Cranberries, all types of peppers, especially grilled
Sauces: Spicy, Cajun and pepper sauces, hot salsa
Desserts: Spice cake, gingerbread, orange-chocolate, carrot cake

Back to Resources