The beginner’s guide to pairing wine with food

The world of wine can seem a little daunting, especially if you’re a novice. If you’ve ever felt a little bit out of your depth when your friends start chatting about their favorite grape or if word tannin fills you with dread, never fear. This guide will help you pair a delicious, suitable wine with your meal like an expert so that your upcoming dinner party goes off without a hitch.

The basics

When it comes to finding the perfect wine and food combination, you should consider two essential factors – the body and the sweetness. As a general rule, boldness in the wine should be matched by boldness in flavor. For rich pasta or red meats, look for full-bodied wines, or, for light chicken or fish dishes, try a light-bodied bodied white, or, occasionally, a light red.

If you’re making a spicy dish, you’ll want to pair it with a sweeter wine rather than a dry wine. The sweetness in the wine helps to even out the experience of heat from the spicy food. We Ship Wine is a great place to start looking for impressive, delicious wines from some unusual labels. Plus, they’ll be able to give you advice on the best pairings for every bottle. Check out their website here:

Some ideas

Here are some fail-safe pairings for inspiration.

1. Pinot Noir with earthy flavors

If you’re cooking a dish with mushrooms or truffle, a light-bodied Pinot Noir will complement the earthy flavors.

2. Chardonnay for fish and rich sauces

Chardonnay is typically a dry, medium-bodied wine with fruity flavors, making it the perfect companion to light, delicate fish dishes, as well as some creamy, rich sauces.

3. Champagne with salty dishes

Champagne is quite dry, which means salt will balance out the acidity, making for a refreshing, balanced meal.

4. Cabernet Sauvignon with bold red meat dishes

Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold red wine. The high tannin acts as a palate cleanser, making it complementary to fatty red meats.

5. Malbec for barbecue flavors

Barbecue sauces tend to have sweet and salty flavors. If you’re planning on grilling some red meat on the barbecue, try pairing the dish with a full-bodied wine like Malbec.

6. Riesling for spicy dishes

If you are planning on cooking a spicy dish, you’ll need to be extra careful about your choice of wine. If you choose the wrong wine, you’ll run the risk of setting everyone’s palates on fire. Go for an off-dry white wine like Riesling. The sweetness in the wine will help to offset the heat from the food.

7. Sauvignon Blanc for cheese dishes

Sauvignon Blanc is a crisp, light wine with a lot of acidity and citrus flavor. It’s best paired with lighter dishes with subtle cheeses like feta or goat cheese.


If you’re struggling to find the perfect wine to serve with your home-cooked meal, do not panic. While wine pairing can be a difficult science to grasp, we hope this list has helped you to narrow down your grape options. Just remember to pay attention to boldness and sweetness, and you’re well on your way to success.

Photo: unsplash-logoZan

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