Food and wine pairing basics


Developing a great food and wine pairing is easily done by experimenting with 6 main basic flavor profiles. It’s time to take a closer look at the fundamental flavor profiles for food and wine pairing and why it works. Match your food and wine like you’re a professional chef or a sommelier.

First thing is the six basics when it comes to food and wine pairing:

  • Fatty and sweet foods pair well with acidity in wines.
  • Fatty foods need either an acidic or high alcohol wine, otherwise the wine will taste flabby.
  • Sweet food can perfectly be balanced by a bitter wine.
  • Salty shouldn’t compete with acidity in wine. Use sparingly as necessary to keep sharpness in the meal.
  • Sweet food/wine benefits from a little acidity.
  • Alcohol can be used to cut through fatty foods or balance a sweet dish.

To understand more about what’s going on structurally with wine & food pairing, regional pairing often are perfect. An elegant Italian wine combined with delicious Italian food… Get it? Be playful when it comes to food pairing and discover your taste when it comes to regional tasting.

Unlike bitter, acidity can be added together with food and wine and will create the basis of what wine people think about when selecting a wine with dinner. If the wine has less acidity than the food, the wine will taste flat. An easy visualisation for acids out-of-balance is a glass of oaked warm climate chardonnay with a vinaigrette salad. When pairing a dish with wine, consider the acid balance between the food and the wine.

If you love maple bacon, candied pecans and salted caramels, a wine and food pairing of a sweet wine with a salty food will probably delight you. Pair riesling with asian foods such as fried rice or Pad Thai, or try one of my favorite “low calorie” desserts of pretzels and tawny port.

Grab a big thick piece of fatty something-or-other and pair it with a wine with lots of tannin. This is the classic steak with red wine food pairing. Take a red wine such as an Italian Sangiovese with lots of cherry flavors and pair the wine with an herbed potato croquette, roasted red tomatoes and rocket (a classic Tuscan Secondi). Suddenly you have a dish that has the tannin balanced with the fat in the croquette and a congruent flavor in the dish and wine (tomato and cherry) that elevate each other.

Nothing like a glass of champagne to cut the fat. A high acid drink will add a range of interesting flavors to a lipid heavy dish. This is why white wine butter sauce is popular. The white wine in the butter sauce livens up the whole dish. So when you are in a situation where there is something fatty like cheese cake, get a glass of something bubbly and zippy.

The alcohol category is a bit of a strange one. The alcohol taste actually comes across as acidity so a lot of the same ideologies of the Acid + Fat category pass over into Alcohol + Fat. The primary difference is that a high alcohol drink should not be used as a palate-cleanser because that will eff you up. Instead, look at an alcohol + fat category as a way to mitigate high-speed food consumption. A glass of 17% ABV zinfandel will greatly slow down the rate at which you consume your pepper steak.