Food and Wine Pairings
Pairing Food with Wine
by Karl Webber, Beer & Wine buyer
One of the most pleasurable aspects of drinking wine is enjoying it with food. Great wine paired with great food is a time honored tradition going back centuries. Both wine and cuisine have evolved tremendously in that time but there are still classic pairings that will always be with us.
I have always said to drink what you like. At the same time I encourage curiosity and experimentation with the goal of broadening knowledge and having wonderful new experiences with wine and food.
I offer the following suggestions below in the spirit of encouraging your curiosity. There are many other wine and cuisine pairings for your exploration and once again, don’t limit your choices based on tradition. Drink and eat what you like but don’t be afraid to experiment.
This delicate white wine can range from sweet to dry and may complement a wide variety of foods. Pair with Asian and other spicy foods or try it with fruits and desserts. It will match light meats, curries, and salads nicely.
The king of whites has a wide range of stylistic differences due to terroir (where it’s grown) and aging (oak or steel). They can be tightly crisp with tart apple in steel, or rich, toasty and buttery with oak aging. The former pairs with grilled fish or chicken, while the latter favors creamy pasta dishes and shellfish.
This full-body red hinting of raspberry and red cherry pairs well with flavorful dishes like grilled sausage or ribs, any barbeque or tomato sauces as well as grilled vegetables. Zinfandel is also the all American wine for pizza and hamburgers. Zinfandel is not the best for most seafood.
Syrah or Shiraz
Medium to heavier red with bold fruit and light spice components, this wine loves brisket, venison, barbeque or braised meats and roasts. Wild game and stews are great partners as well as pizza. Avoid pairing Shiraz with delicate or mild foods.
Light and crisp hinting at lemon, pear, and melon, its classic partner is shellfish and light seafood. You may enjoy it with vegetables and citrus sauces as well.
This food-friendly wine originates in France and was brought to Argentina in 1968. The vines in France were subsequently destroyed by the Great French Wine Blight. Now Malbec is celebrated as an Argentine wine. This nation has the second highest beef consumption per capita so it’s fitting for Malbec to be paired with braised meats, grilled pork or sausage, as well as wild mushrooms and sweet potatoes.
Medium to heavy red with black cherry and plum character, the soft tannins and light smokiness make merlot delicious with grilled meats, tuna and stews or hamburgers. Avoid fish and crustaceans with Merlot.
A lively and bold white wine that is versatile in pairing with picnic or brunch type foods, smoky dry cheeses, salads and raw or steamed vegetables.
Light medium body red that matches well with medium weight cuisine such as salmon, tuna, roast chicken or pork as well as roasted tomatoes and mushrooms
Big full-bodied red ranging from silky, smooth to tannic and chewy, cabernet is the wine for a well-marbled grilled steak. A complex wine known for its black currant, blackberry, eucalyptus, mint and coffee-dark chocolate layers, cabernet also partners well with bean dishes, venison and stews as well as rich tomato sauces.