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6 Best Wine-Food Combinations

At a restaurant, what do you do first? Look at the wine list, then order food? Because if that's the case, change it. To bring out the best flavors in both, first decide what to eat, then pair the right wine with what you've ordered.

When deciding what wine-food combinations work well, focus on bringing out the best characteristics of the wine. Generally speaking, a dry white wine ordered alongside fish is heavenly, but this wine combination is not as palatable when ordered alongside red meat. Another combination you'll likely want to avoid is pairing a bitter wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, with bitter foods, as doing so will multiply the bitterness! While making your choice, bear in mind, that wine should have a higher acidity than the food you ordered, otherwise its taste would be sapless. 

If you're still unsure as to what wines will work best with different foods, the fact file below, pretty much sums it all up, guiding you into what grape varieties pair well with different types of food. 

Pairing wine with food


1. Pairing wine with appetizers

When planning a get together with friends, wine is a quintessential element of such events. As a rule of thumb, bear in mind the following:


Antipasto: White wines such as dry Pinot Gris (Grigio), Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc, alongside antipasto are a match made in heaven.

Nuts and olives: Brut sparkling wine is a fantastic option.

Cold meats: White grape varieties are a good option when paired with cold meats. Try Riesling, Seyval Blanc and Vignoles. Chambourcin Rose also combines well with cold cuts, as does Barbera, a rich, yet light-bodied red wine.

2. Pairing wine with pasta

White wine varieties generally marry well with pasta dishes, enhancing the flavor of the sauce.


Pasta salad:  Dry white wines blend especially well. Opt for Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc wines.

Pasta with a cream sauce: Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc are your best options in this wine-food combination.

Pasta with shellfish: Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay both enhance the flavor of this pasta dish.

Pasta with vegetables: Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier marry well with such a dish. For a red alternative, opt for the Barbera grape variety.

Pasta with tomato sauce: An acidic red wine grape variety, such as Barbera, is the perfect wine to pair with rich sauces such as the classic tomato sauce. Alternatively, you may want to opt for an earthy and rustic variety such as Sangiovese. 


3. Pairing wine with meat and poultry

It may come as no surprise that a full-bodied red wine, goes hand in hand with a perfectly seasoned steak. But red wine also makes for a nice match with venison, turkey, lamb and sausage. Red wine is generally the perfect companion for meat that is cooked over high heat, creating complex, assertive flavors that range from sweet to savory. The fat in the meat mellows the tannins in the wine, while the earthy notes in the wine brings out the smokiness of the meat. 




Chicken: White wine varieties are your best bet with chicken. Chardonnay, Vin Gris, Riesling and Chenin Blanc bring out the poultry's flavors. If red is your preferred grape of choice, opt for Merlot, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Turkey: Opt for red grape varieties such as Merlot and Zinfandel. Alternatively, white grape Chardonnay combines well too.

Duck: Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon bring out the flavors in duck. Rose sparkling wine is also a good option.

Lamb: Red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chancellor stand up to the rich taste of lamb.

Rabbit: Barbera, Pinot Noir and Merlot help bring out the flavors in rabbit. As a white alternative, opt for Riesling.

Sausage: Brut or a Rose sparkling wine, match well with sausage, as do Barbera and Syrah.

Veal: Both Barbera and Merlot enhance the flavors in veal. Chardonnay is also a good option.


4. Pairing wine with seafood

White wine is synonymous with seafood. But some fish and shellfish dishes go quite well with red grape varieties like Pinot  Noir and Merlot. 


Clams: Opt for Brut Sparkling Wine, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.

Crab and lobster: Brut Sparkling Wine and Chardonnay will bring out their flavors.

Mussels: White wines such as Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc all marry well with mussels.

Red Snapper: Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc pair exceptionally well with this fish.

Salmon: For a red grape variety, salmon and Pinot Noir are a great match. Alternatively, you can't go wrong with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.

Swordfish: If red is your preferred grape of choice, opt for Pinot Noir. Sauvignon Blanc, Brut Sparkling wine and Vin Gris are also fantastic white grape options.

Tuna: Merlot and Pinot Noir, paired with tuna are a match made in heaven. Though you cannot go wrong with Sauvignon Blanc, Vin Gris and Chardonnay.


5. Pairing wine with dessert

For the perfect end to a meal, wine can make a good dessert even better. A typical dessert wine, such as Ice Wines work well with cakes, while a Late-Harvest Riesling and a delicious chocolate cake combine heavenly together.

apple pie


Apple pie: White wines are a good option. Try Late-Harvest Riesling, Muscat or various Ice Wines.

Chocolate: If opting for a white wine, go with Late-Harvest Riesling. Alternatively, red grape, Cabernet Sauvignon works well too.

Cream, custard and pudding: Late Harvest Riesling, Muscat and various Ice Wines will certainly enhance their flavors.

Fresh fruit: Pair fresh fruit with Muscat or Late-Harvest Chenin Blanc.

Ice cream and sorbet: Best to have alone. However, a fruit wine or a fruit liqueur may work well.


6. Pairing wine with cheese

Pairing wine and cheese carefully can bring out the best flavors in both. In harder cheese types, such as Pecorino, opt for a wine that contains a lot of tannins, like Cabernet Sauvignon. Creamy cheeses, such as Brie, though, are better paired with wines that have a crisp, fruity flavor, whereas, salty cheeses marry well with a sweet wine, such as Muscat.

cheese platter


Goat cheese: Soft goat's cheese stands well with Sauvignon Blanc and Rose Sparkling Wines. Red wine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir are also a heavenly match. For harder varieties, whilst Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon bring out the cheese's flavors, Syrah is also a good option.

Cow and sheep cheese: Pinot Noir and Petite Syrah are an excellent choice for medium cheeses. Harder cheeses are best served with red grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah (Durif), and white grape options such as Chenin Blanc, Late-Harvest Riesling, and Muscat.

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