A Food and Wine Pairing Guide Makes Life Simple

A food and wine pairing guide can make your pairing efforts easier. Though I believe that experimentation is the name of the game, often we want a bit of guidance in order to start our quest for the best pairing.

Here is a handy guide that gives you some idea of where to start. But do not be afraid to find your own favorite pairing.

Pairing Food with Types of White Wine

White wines pair very well with the light foods that we seem to prefer in this day and age. Pastas, salads, fish, chicken; all have an affinity with many types of white wine. Here are some guidelines for you to try.


Riesling is a light, fresh wine; with floral and fruity notes.

Best foods to pair with are:

Seafood, pork, chicken, creamy cheeses, spicy dishes.

Sauvignon Blanc

is a light, crisp wine with citrus and herbal notes. It is often described as "grassy" because the aroma and flavor remind us of freshly cut grass.

Best foods to pair with are:

Oysters and other shellfish, light fish, light chicken dishes, mild cheeses.


A rich creamy wine with notes of pineapple and a bit of vanilla; often has an oak flavor.

Best food to pair with are:

Fish such as salmon and ahi tuna, grilled chicken, veal, pork, dishes prepared with cream sauces, creamy cheese such as Camembert and Brie.

Sparkling Wines

These can vary from very dry such as Brut, to quite sweet such as Doux. For this reason sparkling wines pair with a great variety of foods.

Best foods to pair with sparkling wines are:

Oysters, caviar, any shellfish, foods that are particularly salty.

Pairing Foods With Types of Red Wine

Red wines are for those who like bold flavors such as beef and dishes that are relatively heavy.

Types of red wine, and the foods that pair well with them are:

Pinot Noir

A light-bodied red wine that often has notes of cherry and berries.

Best foods to pair with are:

Salmon, ahi tuna, shellfish, pastas with light sauces, salads, goat cheeses.


Is a low acidity wine with a medium body. It often has notes of plum and berries.

Best foods to pair with are:

Pork, pizza, pasta with sauces that are a bit heavier, grilled foods, full flavored cheeses.

Cabernet Sauvignon

A full bodied wine with notes of blackberry and spices. This wine is rich and strong flavored.

Best foods to pair with are:

Rich steaks, lamb, game means, heavy stews, chocolate.


A spicy wine that is full-bodied and full of flavor. Though some winemakers produce zinfandels that are lighter in body, most are bold.

Best foods to pair with are:

Barbecued ribs, red meats, game meats, dishes with rich sauces, pizza and heavy sauced pastas, spicy foods.

What About Spicy Foods?

In the food and wine pairing guide you might have noticed that there are pairing recommendations that seem to contradict one another. A light riesling is recommended with spicy foods, and so is a bold zinfandel. What is important to remember is that much depends on your taste, and what you want to achieve.

A light riesling will refresh your palate while eating a spicy Thai dish. A bold zinfandel, or any wine with a high alcohol content, will make the food seem spicier, but it will also stand up to the bold flavor of the dish.

Its your call. My recommendation is to try spicy dishes with both types of wine, and see which you prefer.

This is a useful food and wine pairing guide, but it is important to remember that you are the final arbiter of what tastes good to you.

You may also have noticed that more than one type of wine is recommended for foods that seem similar. This means that that there are choices, not strict rules.

Follow the guidelines, but do not be afraid to experiment. Food and wine pairing, through trial and error, will further your wine education.

A Food And Wine Pairing Guide Is Useful, But It Is Fine To Experiment

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