Wine and Food Pairing – 10 Points ©

The 10 most important points for wine and food pairing:

  • Match Weight with Weight: Balance the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. Aim to balance so neither overwhelm the other. Bold, spicy dishes match best with full-bodied and big flavour wines. Powerful Shiraz is good with robust braai and game meats. Remember sauces too.
  • Match Quality with Quality: Pair great with great, humble with humble. Match the quality of your wine with that of the food. A fillet steak deserves a decent Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Pinotage. These wines would also pair with a burger – Pinotage, especially – but choose an average or commercial wine.
  • To Like or to Contrast? Traditionally, wine and food are of equal importance (‘horizontal’ pairing). They complement and mirror each other. Tannic Cabernet Sauvignon matches a rich lamb roast; Viognier goes with ethnic, mild chicken korma; port pairs with stilton. Another philosophy is that ‘opposites attract’ (‘vertical’ pairing). A wine is chosen to show off the food, or vice versa. An example would be to serve an acidic Sauvignon Blanc with seafood in a smooth, creamy sauce.
  • Choose Flexible Wines if Unsure: Wines with high acidity (Sauvignon Blanc, dry Riesling or Pinot Noir) cleanse the palate. They pair well with simple foods and a wide range of dishes.
  • Pair Salt with Sweet: Saltiness contrasts deliciously with sweetness. Many sweet and sour dishes pair well with off-dry or semi-sweet wines, such as Riesling or even Rosé. Many cheese and wine pairings match salty cheese with sweet wine.
  • Match Fruit with Fruit: Many dishes contain fruit in them or with them. Think duck with orange, pork and apple sauce, or chicken with cranberry sauce. Fruity and floral wines pair well with these – Viognier, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Colombard.
  • Match Salt with Acidity: Acidic wines pair well with salty foods. Many Asian dishes containing soy sauce go well with high-acid wines like Riesling. Brut MCC is a classic with smoked salmon.
  • Combine Fatty Food with Powerful Wines: Fatty meats, or dishes with butter, or cream need rich, structured, and concentrated wines. Tannin in a well-structured red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot) stands up to the meat – which, in turn, softens the tannin. Pair richness with richness too, as is often with French cuisine.
  • Delicious Umami: Umami (savoury), the 5th taste, brings deliciousness to foods. Umami-rich foods such as certain cheeses, soy sauce, and mushrooms make an ordinary dish exciting. Wine, when paired well, can have the same effect. Cabernet Sauvignon lifts a good steak.
  • Tricky Desserts: Matching wine with sweet desserts can be difficult. Wines can become dull and lose character with sweeter dishes. Pair a sweeter wine with a not-so-sweet dessert (one with nuts or fruit). Red Muscadel or even brandy is the best match for chocolate.

You Might Also Like


Yanky Doodle Dave Didn’t Bring all the Wines

Fish (and other foods) with Wanda!

How to Taste Wine©

From South Africa to a Whole New (and Old) World

Au Revoir France!

Wine can be so Humbling

Around the (Old) World in 18 Hours – starting with the European Cuvée!

Little Did I Know What I Had Started – A New Passion

Brut Force and Less Ignorance

Judge and be Judged!

Champagne and Brandies left Me Disappointed

Red, Red (Spanish) Wine

Diploma Done and Dusted – But for the Final Result – I Passed!

Cork and Talk with Dave

Cheers to Lemon Squirt Acidity and Puppy Dog Breath!

Of Female Rugby Players and Ballet Dancers! Let’s Continuously Study Very Seriously: Wines of the Loire and Northern Rhône

Dave Goes Down Under and the Wines Go Up

On the Left, but then on the Right …

Marching into France

A Cape Wine Master-class

What Is Over the Legal Limit? Some Surprising, Scary Thoughts for Tasting and Drinking

Taint, Mould, Sweet-Sour, Elastoplast, Stale Honey, Bee Wax and Potato Skin With the Wine Prof

The Ladies in Red

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *