From the abundant amount of wine that was consumed by many to whining about the year to family and friends, we can all agree that wine was a common theme in 2020. It’s only appropriate that we wine about 2020 one last time with our favorite wines and their pairings.
Here are 6 Rules To Go By When It Comes To Pairing Wine With Food:
- The wine should be a bit sweeter than the food.
- The wine should be more acidic than the food you are eating.
- The flavor intensity of the wine and the food should be the same.
- Foods with fat are best balanced with bitter wines (e.g. red wines).
- Red wines are best to be paired with meats that have bolder flavors (e.g. red meat).
- White wines are best paired with meats that are considered light-intensity (e.g. fish or chicken).
Let’s start talking about specifics; here are a few of our favorite wines and their pairings.
Sauvignon Blanc is known to be a light, crisp white wine with high levels of acidity and citrus. Due to the airy nature of this wine, it is great paired with light yet flavor-packed dishes. Sauvignon Blanc brings out the taste of herbs in dishes, making it a great pair for dishes where those spices might otherwise go unnoticed. Here are some of our favorite pairings when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc:
- Feta and goat cheese
- Pine nuts
- Chicken, turkey, pork
- Fatty white fish, scallops, lobster, shrimp, sushi
- Green apple, asparagus
- Chives, tarragon, cilantro
- Citrus and light cream sauces
- Key lime pie, meringue, mango
Dry Rosé works great paired with rich, cheesy dishes. Due to the acidity that is included in white wine and the fruit characteristics of red wine, this type of rosé works well with all types of cheese. Here are some recommendations:
- Triple-decker baked Italian cheese sandwich
- Extra cheesy macaroni and cheese
- Grilled cheese
- Four cheese Italian pizza
Chardonnay has a variety of different styles that it is made into and that should be taken into consideration when pairing this wine. To name a few styles, there is light oak, California-Style with a very prominent oak and butter presence, and full-bodied.
Chardonnay has a strong physical attendance that allows it to hold its ground where other wines might fall a bit flat. This white wine is decadent but still has a great deal of acidity in its flavor. The acidity makes it a great pair for rich, creamy dishes. Here are our favorite pairings with Chardonnay:
- For Chardonnay with unoaked taste: mild and semi-soft cheeses
- For Chardonnay with oak taste: asiago, havarti, or other blue-veined cheeses
- Any sort of toasted nut but specifically almonds
- Veal, chicken, pork
- Halibut, shrimp, crab, lobster
- Potato, apple, squash, mango
- Tarragon, sesame, basil
- Banana bread, vanilla pudding
Malbec, a red wine, is able to hold its own when it comes to sweet or spicy barbeque sauces. The big and bold flavor that is present in Malbec is great to drink with dishes that are heavily spiced with barbeque sauces. Here are our recommendations of foods that pair well with Malbec:
- Chicken drumsticks with spicy-sweet barbeque sauce
- Grilled meat with spicy or sweet barbeque sauce
Riesling has a very interesting history that needs to be understood before pairing it perfectly. The modern-day Riesling has a sweet twist on it that has become the normal for the United States.
Although Riesling now comes in many styles, the true Riesling from Europe is minimally sweet. That balance between sweetness and acidity makes the white wine a significant food pairing. Here are our favorite foods to pair with a glass of Riesling:
- Candied nuts, especially walnuts or pecans
- Smoked sausage, duck
- Sea bass, trout
- Apricots, pears
- Rosemary, ginger, chili peppers
- Thai or Indian spices
- Chutney, Barbeque sauce
Pinot Grigio is a very delicate white wine. Due to the delicacy of Pinot Grigio, light seafood dishes take on a more flavorful presence when paired with this wine. Both Pinot Grigio and the light seafood dishes are equally as delicate, making them the perfect pair to complement one another. Here are our recommendations on pairing with Pinot Grigio:
- Seafood tostada bites
- Orange mango braised tilapia with lime coconut quinoa
- Toasted coconut tilapia with pomegranate salsa
- Broiled salmon with roasted garlic cream noodles
Although Merlot isn’t the most-trendy wine to drink in the modern-day, Merlot’s soft berry flavors and a note of eucalyptus leaves there much to be appreciated. Merlot also contains flavorful characteristics such as mint and juniper. Here are our favorite pairings with the aroma of Merlot:
- Chestnuts, walnuts
- Steak or other grilled meats
- Grilled meatier fish
- Dishes with caramelized onions
- Tomatoes, plums
- Mint, rosemary, juniper
- Dark chocolate, berries, fondue
Two adjectives that describe Zinfandel are rustic and rich. Now, if you can use the same adjectives to describe the wine and the dish or snack that you are trying to pair with the wine, then you have found their perfect match. Here are our favorite pairings for Zinfandel:
- Any Mousses, such as chicken-liver mousse
Cabernet could be the United States’ mascot due to the flexibility of being able to be paired with many American loved foods. The one thing that comes to mind is beef. The softer side of Cabernet allows it to be easily paired well with cheeses and even lavender. Here are our recommendations of pairings with Cabernet Sauvignon:
- Venison, rib eye, beef, beef stew
- Grilled ahi tuna
- Black cherries, tomatoes, broccoli
- Rosemary, juniper, lavender
- Tomato sauce
- Bittersweet chocolate
Pinot Noir is a fruitful combination of flavors and aromas. The wine is beautifully light but the body has some weight that pairs well with some meats. Pinot Noir pairs well with heartier fish, such as salmon, in the winter. There other heartier compliments such as mushrooms. Here are our favorite pairings with Pinot Noir:
- Goat cheese
- Lamb, sausage, filet mignon, chicken
- Ahi tuna, salmon
- Mushrooms, dried fruits, figs, strawberries
- Nutmeg, cinnamon, clove
- Mushroom sauce, light-medium red sauce
- Creme brulee, white chocolate
Are There Recommendations on What to Not Pair Wines With?
As many ways as there are to pair wines, there are equally as many ways to not pair wines.
For Sauvignon Blanc, the acidity in the vinaigrette kills the flavors present in the wine and that numbs the tart flavor in the vinaigrette. Therefore, any form of vinaigrette should not be paired with Sauvignon Blanc.
Chardonnay has the ability to overwhelm dishes that aren’t as strong as the wine itself. When pairing this wine, stay away from subtle dishes and snacks that can fade into the background when drinking Chardonnay.
Chocolate is a great snack to pair with Merlot. When drinking Merlot and pairing it with chocolate, make sure that the wine is sweeter than the chocolate that you are eating. If this is not paired right, then the Merlot will start to taste sour. This being said, chocolate is a fun snack, but hard to pair with so be careful.
What Does Pairing Wine Actually Mean?
Wine pairing is when an individual takes a wine and finds food or snacks that compliment the flavors and aroma of the wine. The wine and their new pairings are consumed together for optimal taste.
When wine pairing, the individual should start with only a half glass of wine. This would be around 3 to 4 ounces. That way there is enough wine to enjoy the glass but not too much to overpower the accompanying menu. As the menu progresses, little splashes of extra wine can be added to the glass as needed.