How to Pair Wine with Meals
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated August 29, 2022)
Many people believe that there are all kinds of drawn out, and sometimes complicated, rules that deal with how to pair wine with meals. While basically this is true, there are four simple guidelines that you can use to help you learn the basics. Using these four guidelines will help you ensure a respectable pairing of wine to meals, and will help you to truly impress your friends and family the next time you get together for a formal meal.
- Balance the flavors. The main goal, or idea, of leaning how to pair wine with meals is balance. There should be a balance between the flavors of the wine, and the meal itself. Simply put, the flavor of the wine should never overpower the flavor of the food, and the converse of this rule is true as well. The tastes of the food and wine should compliment each other, and improve upon each other.
- Quality with quality. It isn't always easy to figure out the type of wine that should go with a particular meal. When trying to decide on which wine to take to a particular meal, keep in mind that quality should go with quality. What this means is that you should never serve a wine that you may eat with some burgers when you are having a three course French meal. Remember, like goes with like.
- Start light and work up. If you will be having a meal that has several courses, and where several wines may be served, start with the lighter tastes and work your way up. Think of this as building a foundation for a building or a house. Simply put, you want a light wine with light food, and heavier wine with heavier foods. For example, during your salad or soup course you will want to have a light wine, whereas with the main dish you will want to have a richer, heartier, heavier wine.
- How is the food made? The way that the food is prepared can actually play a role in what wine you should choose to serve. For example, when serving a delicately prepared food (such as poached salmon) then you want to pair it with a delicate flavored wine. When serving foods that are prepared by brasing, grilling, or roasting methods, then you want to use a wine that has a fuller and more flavorful taste. In cases such as this, you should try to pair the flavor of the wine to the main ingredient or taste of the dish.