Key Food and Wine Pairing Principles

Video: 4m 33sec Quiz: 4 questions

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Wine can sometimes seem complicated and these days, food can also be an overwhelming topic. When it comes to combining the two, you are not alone if you are left wondering where to start. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “If you like the dish and you like the wine, you’ll like the pairing.” Not so fast. You may love oysters and Napa Cabernet, but putting the two together will bring down both, and who wants that?

Now, you can relax–with my 4 key pairing principles you are sure to pair like a master.We’ve all heard the old (and washed-up, in my view!) rule for pairing wine with food of “red wine with meat, white wine with fish.” If you do it right, pairing wine and food is WAY more fun and flexible than that! And the real rules are neither hard to pull off, nor hard-and-fast.

You probably spent a few bucks on that wine and on the ingredients in your dish or your choice off the menu, so why not get the most out of it? Thinking through my 4 key wine pairing principles will help you do just that.

So what are they?

1. Body with Body – When people say “Red wine with meat and white wine with fish”, they’re not wrong but what they really mean is pair full-bodied wines with full-bodied dishes. Red wine is often heavy bodied and meat is often heavy bodied, but not always. A Pinot Noir from Burgundy can be medium bodied and pair perfectly with a medium bodied fish like salmon. Red wine with fish is not exactly the pairing wine with food principle you have heard so often, but in this case, pairing medium body with medium body really works. In fact this is one of my favorite examples of pairing wine with food with amazing results. Try it and let me know what you think.

2. Place with Place – Wine and food that grew up together, go together

3. Complement and Contrast – Complement is often the key principle in pairing wine with food but contrast can also be a hit. A hot, spicy dish with a wine with a touch of sweetness to contrast and cut through that spice can be a match made in heaven

4. It’s the prep, not the protein – What goes with Chicken? Well it depends on the prep and or the sauce. To put this idea to the test, I pair Oysters with a pesto sauce with steak. Oysters and steak? Well, with a pesto prep, it really works. Trust me.

Key Pairing Principles

  • Match “place” with “place”
  • Match body with body
  • Go for complement or contrast
  • Pair the prep not the protein
  • If someone else is buying – it’s a match 🙂