What wine should you have with your meal? Selecting a wine pairing for your food can bring out the best flavors of both. Generally speaking, white wine goes with chicken, fish and dry aged cheeses. It also goes well with pork, “the other white meat.” Red wines pair with richer foods—blue cheese, beef, pizza and grilled meats.
It is easy to check online for “proper” pairings, but ultimately you should decide for yourself. If you don’t care for a certain varietal, you aren’t going to enjoy your meal, no matter how perfectly it is paired with the food.
Try choosing what seems to make sense for yourself. Select a wine you love and try it with your next home cooked meal; take a bite and chew it awhile. Without swallowing, take a sip of your selected wine and let the wine and food blend together. If the flavor immediately falters, the wine does not pair well with that dish, however if you are feeling a burst of delicious flavors that taste better together than apart, you have paired your wine well. If this sort of adventurous wine tasting does not appeal to you, instead check online or consult a friend who enjoys wine.
Here are some classic dishes and suggested pairings with readily available wine varietals.
Peel and eat shrimp, shrimp scampi, shrimp on the barbi, shrimp any which way you want them with a bubbly glass of Prosecco. It is cool, light and will highlight the flavors of the sea. This dry, crisp sparkling white wine refreshes your palate and is a great counter to creamy sauces and rich flavors. You’ll also love it with an accompanying salad. It is often incorrectly referred to as “champagne” a name only legally allowed for sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France.
Wine with pizza? Most people think of this casual fare as a beer food, and it certainly is. But some night try it with a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This is a wine that is fun to pronounce as well as delicious to drink. It comes from the dark purple Montepulciano grape in the Abruzzo region of Italy. This wine is dry, not sweet, medium-bodied and full of fruit flavor. It will accentuate the flavors of your pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage and cheese. This wine is relatively easy to find in any Italian section of your wine store.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
You know what chicken is; “Cordon Bleu” is French for “the highest class” and is an old expression referring to the highest order of chivalry. For us it means boneless chicken breasts pounded flat, then wrapped around a few pieces of ham and Swiss cheese, covered in bread crumbs and fried to crispy perfection. How do you make perfect better? Add a glass of Chardonnay. Bright and buttery with an oaky flavor, this white wine brings out the taste of the Swiss cheese and ham. It won’t overpower your meal, and you may find yourself reaching for another glass.
Amish Beef and Noodles
This is a popular Midwestern dish you may have had and not known as Amish. Hearty and delicious, Amish beef and noodles is a great comfort food, especially in the cold winter months. The only thing that might make it better is a big glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. “Cabs” as they are affectionately referred to, are red wines in a wide range of flavor and quality, but tend to be heavy and full bodied, pairing well with beef dishes.
Pork tends to take on flavors of the ingredients used in its preparation, such as apples and lemons, more so than other meats like beef or fish. If you prefer red wine, a pinot noir would be a fine choice to pair with your pork. “Pinot and pork” sounds good and they share the same sweet and smoky undertones. If you prefer to drink white wine, try a glass of German Riesling which is dry, subtle and brings out the flavors of richly marbled pork shoulder. Both go great with any vegetables or apples baked with the pork; avoid a late harvest Riesling, as they tend to be sweeter.
Generally, you’re going to choose white wine with fish, but some go better with red. Grilled salmon pairs well with a number of red wines, like a hearty glass of California burgundy or fruity Beaujolais from France to bring out the rich taste of the fish. Freshwater trout pairs well with Italian Pinot Grigio, a smooth, almost oily white wine. In some cases you will have to consider what you are having with the fish when making your choice.
These are suggestions. There are no rules, especially not in your own home. It does help to look at suggested pairings and get ideas from wine connoisseurs, your wine club shipment suggestions or friends who drink more wine than you do. You don’t want flavors to clash, but maybe “clash” tastes good to you, in which case go with it. The best question to ask when drinking wine or pairing wine with food is “does it taste good when I drink it.” If the answer is “yes,” then you have properly paired your wine with your food.
About the Author: Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.