Have you ever gone out for a nice dinner with your partner or friend, but then found yourself too embarrassed to speak when asked about ordering wine to go with the meal? It is a terrible feeling and one that is so unnecessary. With a few simple tips today, you will soon find yourself with the confidence to face any wine steward (or ‘sommelier’) with a smile and reply, “yes, of course we will have wine!”
There are a lot of reasons that people choose different wines when ordering particular foods and this often comes down to such things as:
- the sweetness or bitterness of the food
- personal preference
- whether the meal is overly salty or fatty
- the variety of wines available in that specific location
- whether the food has been smoked or grilled, and
- will the wine complement the food in regards to texture and flavour?
We are sure that everyone you speak to will give a different reason for why they chose a specific wine to pair with a meal, when you thought something else might have been more suitable. We don’t believe in hard and fast rules when pairing food with wine though because every type of wine may taste slightly different depending upon where it was grown, the amount of rainfall received that year, the temperatures the grapes endured, and the process used to make the wine.
So rather than say what you MUST pair certain wines with, we plan to tell you what we prefer from the major wine types, and what works for us. We hope it will be beneficial and give you the confidence to start ordering wines on any occasion.
The most popular white wines in this house could be classed as being either dry, sweet or rich. These include:
- Chardonnay – a typical seafood wine which is lovely with prawns, crab, lobster and salmon, but also nice with brie cheese, chicken and other white meats
- Sauvignon Blanc – one of our favourite dry whites, which is also a little fruity and nice with a selection of white meats, oysters and sole, as well as pork, and mozzarella and feta cheese
- Pinot Grigio – crisp and fresh with a little spice, this wine can also be paired with mozzarella, as well as sea bass and trout, chicken and turkey, and some lighter smoked meats
- Riesling – this popular and aromatic white is great with crab and salmon, blue cheese, most white meats and almost any smoked meats
- Moscato – a very easy drinking wine, also thought of as a dessert or sparkling wine by some. The sweetness of the wine is a perfect match for spicy foods, curries, fruit salads, and soft blue cheese.
Red wines can roughly be classed as being either light, medium or big/heavy, and our favourites include:
- Merlot – also used as a blending wine, Merlot can be paired with tuna, camembert and gouda cheeses, as well as most red meats such as lamb, beef and pork
- Pinot Noir – a wonderful wine which can taste differently every time you drink it. It goes well with goat and feta cheeses, some game meats, and salmon
- Shiraz – also known as Syrah, this is one of our favourite wines. It can be paired with beef and lamb, white meats like chicken and duck, salmon and tuna, and parmesan cheese
- Cabernet Sauvignon – This hearty red is probably the most recognised red wine in the world, and goes well with game meats and duck, beef and lamb dishes, as well as brie and camembert cheeses.
Sparkling and Dessert Wines
This last group typically includes the fortified wines like the well-known port, sherry, muscat, and late harvest wines. Champagne or sparkling wine also suits this dessert group of wines. While they all taste slightly different, most of them suit similar food types, so it is easier to deal with them as follows.
- Fortified and Late Harvest Wines – while they can be enjoyed just by themselves on a cold night around an open fire, they are lovely to pair with a rich fruit pie or chocolate mousse, liver pate, jarlsberg or brie cheeses, roasted nuts and olives, and rice pudding
- Sparkling Wines – depending upon your preference, sparkling wines can be paired with a very wide range of foods including smoked salmon and caviar, fish in cream sauce, a variety of asian and savoury dishes, as well as salty and deep-fried foods. And if you are having a movie night at home, try some popcorn and sparkling wine – you might just fall in love with it.
Welcome then to the world of pairing food and wine. The number one rule however is this: just about every wine you try today will be a little different to the last time you tried it from a different harvest year or location. Therefore, what suits one particular food today may not suit it so well next time. Be prepared to experiment and never say that one type of wine cannot ever be enjoyed with a particular type of food, because next year’s harvest might just prove you wrong.
Have fun with it, and please drop a comment below with any thoughts or further suggestions.
Living each adventure,
Christine and Trevor
Empowering people to live a healthy, active, authentic and fulfilling life.
Adelaide, South Australia.
DISCLAIMER: This article is written for informational purposes only and is based on Christine and Trevor’s own life experiences. No food featured on this site should ever be consumed or handled if known or suspected allergies exist. Nothing featured here should be taken as medical, professional or legal advice. It is always recommended that you consult the appropriate professional before changing any routine or adopting any new procedure.
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