We understand that finding the right wine and food combination has become more of a maze of rules and regulations and less of an exciting tasting journey. It can be an overwhelming and complex process discovering which foods pair best with which wines since there are so many choices. But, we promise, when you hit the mark, your taste buds will resonate and be begging for more. So don’t shy away from hosting a dinner party simply because you’re intimidated by the pairing process. We’re outlining the basics of food and wine pairings in the most simplistic of terms, highlighting some of our favorite wines with basic food groups to help get you going in the right direction.
First off, it’s important to understand that both wine and food have specific flavor components that work together to create delicious pairings. Wine flavors derive from sugar, acid, fruit, tannin, and alcohol while food components consist of fat, acid, salt, sugar, and bitter flavorings. Knowing how to perfectly complement and contrast these favors is the key to matching the right wines with the right foods.
White Wine Pairing Basics:
Pinot Grigio tends to be lighter, simplistic wine with a crisp citrus flavor. Its freshness pairs well with light dishes, particularly light fish dishes. You’ll discover more flavor from your dish when paired with a similar delicate wine. We like to stick with the lighter fishes, particularly shellfish, because the natural acidity of these delicious wines brings out the best in these particular flavors. Also good to note, Pinot Grigio is a good salad wine due to its tartness and acidity – a food that can be difficult to find a pairing with. If you’re cooking a light airy fish such as shrimp or tilapia, try pairing with our Bell Ambiance Pinto Grigio for a delicious combination.
If your menu consists of more fatty fishes or those rich in creamy sauces, opt for a Chardonnay instead. Chardonnay takes on a velvety, creamy feel in the mouth and is rich with fruit, lemon, melon, grass, and vanilla flavorings. Its silky freshness pairs well with fattier fishes or creamy dishes. Some kind of chowder or salmon in a mushroom cream sauce pairs perfectly with the butteriness of this white wine. Our Langtry Chardonnay is a rich and complex Chardonnay that embodies all aspects of the delicious wine.
Other Quick White Wine Rules:
If you need an instant touch of lemon or lime flavoring to your dish, look to white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño and Vermentino. These wines are made in stainless steel tanks rather than oak barrels and have citrusy acidity that heightens the citrus flavoring in various dishes. Also, be careful when pairing white wine with spicy foods. Chardonnays typically don’t pair well as they are too oaky and the flavor combinations don’t mix well.
Red Wine Pairing Basics:
General rule of thumb: earthy wines pair well with earthy foods. Pinot Noir is a very versatile wine that exudes flavors of ripe red fruit, cherry, chocolate, toast, and various spices depending upon the bottle. Its earthy and sensual complex make it the perfect complement to earthy flavors such as pork chops, chicken breasts, etc. Fun note, Pinot Noir pairs amazingly with truffles as you will see the earthy notes both create a great harmony in your palate. For a delicious Pinot Noir, try Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir for subtle strawberry and raspberry fruit flavors with elegant earthy tones complemented by hints of vanilla and smoke due to oak aging.
For those who crave those juicy, red meats, we highly recommend going for a Cabernet Sauvignon. This bold, full-bodied red wine pairs perfectly with equally bold dishes. It has strong fruit flavors and bold savory peppery tastes. With higher tannins and alcohol, it pairs well with any meat (protein or fat) to tame the tannins. Because it is a dark red wine, pair with dark, red sauces such as a mushroom sauce or red wine reduction. The most known Cabernet Sauvignon pairing is with lamb, but it goes well with steak, venison, rabbit, and other red meats.For a delicious Cab, opt for our Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon (the name itself gives away the pairing) for a sophisticated bold-flavored wine with a refined smoothness.
If you still feel a bit lost or overwhelmed, follow this general rule of thumb: all wine tastes great! Wine is wine and regardless of which you choose, your guests will rejoice. Trust your own palate and taste buds to make the decision. Browse our full list of amazing wines here.