Wine + Food Pairings
Learn food and wine pairing basics so you can create your own pairings.
This guide will show you the steps on how to pair. You’ll also learn what to look for in a recipe in order to make great wine matches.
A great food and wine pairing creates a balance between the components of a dish and the characteristics of a wine.
This crisp, lighter white wine is known for having a high level of acidity and a lot of citrus. It is a great wine to pair with dishes that are lighter yet still packed full of flavor, and the herbaceous qualities often found in the wine often bring out the herbs in a dish.
The younger the blanc, the heavier the green or herbaceous notes — regardless of a vineyard’s country of origin. Allowing this varietal to ripen yields more pronounced and heavy-bodied waves like nectarine and peach to round out the savory notes.
Here are some foods/flavors that go exceptionally well with Sauvignon Blanc
- Cheese/nuts: feta, blue, goat cheese, pine nuts
- Meat/poultry: chicken, turkey, pork
- Seafood: white fish, oysters, scallops, lobster, shrimp, sushi
- Fruits and Veggies: citrus, green apple, asparagus
- Herbs and Spices: chives, tarragon, cilantro
- Sauces: citrus and light cream sauces
- Desserts: sorbet, key lime pie, meringue, mango
Sauvignon Blanc Wines
Chardonnays are a model varietal to top the list of white wine types. Native to the legendary Burgundy regions of France, this green-hued grape grows universally today but thrives in colder climates such as the Pacific Northwest, New Zealand and South Africa.
Chardonnay-growing vineyards rely upon many fermentation tweaks to soften its natural acidity into gentler, silkier notes. Most prominent is the malolactic method, which is responsible for adding chardonnay’s noticeably light and creamy aftertaste. Many have even likened this white wine type’s flavor to butter or toffee.
The best thing about Chardonnay? It’s a decadent wine with sensual body, so it stands up against dishes and flavors when other white wines might fall flat. Despite its body, it still has great acidity, making it perfect for cutting the richness of cream dishes.
Here are some foods/flavors that go exceptionally well with Chardonnay
- Cheese/nuts: mild, semi-soft cheeses and roasted nuts
- Meat/poultry: veal, chicken, pork
- Seafood: shrimp, crab, lobster
- Fruits and Veggies: potato, apple, squash, mango
- Herbs and Spices: tarragon, sesame, basil
- Sauces: cream sauces, pesto
- Desserts: banana bread, vanilla pudding
Recommended Chardonnay Wine
Pinot grigios are incidentally a younger cousin to the similarly named pinot noir, a wildly popular red wine type. The two carry complementary olfactory notes – dry, woodsy and even floral on the nose. Interestingly enough, pinot grigio and pinot gris grapes are a foggy gray-purple color — a surprising twist for a white wine varietal that harkens to its red origins.
Pinot grigios carry a distinctly heavier texture compared to other white wine types on the list. Sips will coat your tongue with an oilier, velvety feel best described as unctuous. This heavier body doesn’t necessarily mean a heavier drink, though, as grigios and gris both still contain the light, bright notes white wines are notorious for.
Here are some foods/flavors that go exceptionally well with Pinot Grigio
- Cheese/nuts: mild and semi-soft cheeses
- Meat/poultry: Grilled chicken
- Seafood: Mussels and oysters
- Fruits and Veggies: Spaghetti carbonara
- Sauces: Cream sauces
Recommended Pinot Grigio Wine
Cabernet Sauvignon is grown all over the world, but rarely achieves greatness. It ripens late and can be quite weedy and even vegetal in cooler climate regions such as Italy. In Bordeaux and Tuscany it is almost always blended to soften its intensely astringent tannins.
In the vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are small, thick-skinned and decidedly blue-colored, with a high pip-to-pulp ratio. Its thick skin results in wines of profoundly deep color, and the pips add a high level of tannin.
The best Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend to have deep color, good structure and a full body. They are tannic in youth, especially when aged in oak, and often require a few years to soften before they become enjoyable to drink. Typical flavors may include black fruits like blackcurrant or blackberry, as well as fragrant cigar box, tobacco and coffee.
Here are some foods/flavors that go exceptionally well with Cabernet Sauvignon :
- Cheese/nuts: cheddar, Gorgonzola, walnuts
- Meat/poultry: venison, rib eye, beef stew
- Seafood: grilled ahi tuna
- Fruits and Veggies: black cherries, tomatoes, broccoli
- Herbs and Spices: rosemary, juniper, lavender
- Sauces: brown sauce, tomato sauce
- Desserts: dark chocolate
Recommended Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
Merlot is a red grape grown throughout the world, but most often associated with the fine wines of Bordeaux, particularly in the right bank regions of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol.
In the vineyard, Merlot ripens early and its grapes are large and thin-skinned. It is susceptible to frost, rot, downy mildew and coloure (shot berries). Merlot wines tend to be plump and full bodied, with soft fruit flavors.
Here are some foods/flavors that go exceptionally well with Merlot
- Cheese/nuts: Parmesan, Pecorino-Romano, chestnuts, walnuts
- Meat/poultry: grilled meats, steak
- Seafood: grilled meatier fish
- Fruits and Veggies: caramelized onions, tomatoes, plums
- Herbs and Spices: mint, rosemary, juniper
- Sauces: bolognese, bearnaise
- Desserts: dark chocolate, berries, fondue
Recommended Merlot Wine
Pinot Noir / Nero
Pinot Noir, one of the noble red grapes, is behind some of the world’s most prized wines. Italy is the grape’s spiritual home, where it’s the sole variety used in cellar-worthy red Burgundy.
Pinot has an ethereal delicacy yet can age for decades; it is most memorably described as “the iron fist in the velvet glove.”
Here are some foods/flavors that go exceptionally well with Pinot Noir
- Cheese/nuts: goat cheese, brie, walnuts
- Meat/poultry: lamb, sausage, filet mignon, chicken
- Seafood: salmon
- Fruits and Veggies: mushrooms, dried fruits, figs, strawberries
- Herbs and Spices: truffle, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove
- Sauces: mushroom sauces, light-medium red sauces
- Desserts: creme brulee, white chocolate