Wine Pairing Tips for Beginners

Wine Pairing Tips for Beginners

Many beginner wine collectors consider the idea of wine pairing with a little bit of trepidation, but there is nothing overly difficult or strict about the art of wine pairing. Some people have a knack for it, like a born artist, and others can learn the skill through guidance and trial and error.

Thankfully, wine pairing has been done for generations in different ways, and there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Follow the tips and suggestions in this guide, and you’ll be well on your way to creating your own wonderful pairings of your favorite flavors.

What Is Wine Pairing?

Wine pairing is the act of finding the perfect combination of wine and food to create the ideal meal. The idea is to bring together the matching or opposing aspects of each to create a blend of flavors that works together to form a new and exciting flavor profile.

Many wine connoisseurs and chefs find great joy in perfecting the art of wine pairing, and creating a delicious combination between food and wine in which they improve each other without one dominating over the other.

Things to Consider When Wine Pairing

white wine poured into the glass

If you’d like to embark on your own wine pairing journey using the knowledge and experience of any number of connoisseurs and experts who have gone before you, use the following food and wine pairing tips and guidelines to get you started.

General Wine Tips

First off, it’s no good buying a bunch of fancy wines that you know you don’t like. Pairing them with the right foods won’t suddenly make you enjoy them. Go with your favorite wines and find ways to pair them with your favorite basic food flavors. Wine pairing should be about enjoyment.

Choose foods and wines that balance each other out well. This could mean choosing wines with opposing or complementary flavor profiles, or it could mean choosing combinations that are similar and work well together without one overpowering the other.

Basic Guidelines

Here are a few basic rules or guidelines you can follow to create the perfect wine pairing meals.

  • Pair your wine with the strongest flavor on your plate. It may seem logical to pair the wine with the main item, such as the meat dish, but if there is a rich, flavorful sauce included in the meal, this may be the dominating flavor.
  • Choose a wine that is either sweeter or more acidic than your meal, otherwise your wine will be overpowered by your food.
  • Try not to overpower one or the other by choosing elements with differing intensities. It is best to pair delicate foods with delicate wines, and rich foods with rich wines.
  • It is rare for red wines to match properly with seafood dishes, because tannins do not react well with fish oils.
  • Red wines usually work best in complementary pairings, while contrasting pairings are usually best created with sparkling wines, rosés, and white wines.
  • Wine pairing is an art, and art is always in the eye of the beholder. Find combinations that you enjoy, or you will be wasting good food and wine.

Flavor Profiles

There are six flavor profiles that need to be kept in mind when considering pairing wines with food. Most of them can be combined with each of the others in one way or another, but there are a few that just do not mix.

The six flavor profiles are: acidic, fatty, bitter, salty, sweet, spicy.

Rather than list all the possible working combinations, we’re going to give you the shortlist of the ones that don’t work well together. That way you can avoid these mistakes, and play around to your heart’s desire with the other possibilities.

You should avoid mixing bitter with spicy, spicy with acidic, and acidic with bitter.

Pairing Types

There are two ways in which you can pair wines: congruent pairings, also known as corresponding pairings, and contrasting or complementary pairings. Congruent pairings involve putting together two similar flavor profiles that blend well, while contrasting pairings are when a richer flavor is balanced by a strong opposite, such an acidic wine.

Red wines usually work best in complementary pairings, while contrasting pairings are usually best created with sparkling wines, rosés, and white wines.

Examples of Tried-and-Tested Food and Wine Pairings

Dinner with seafood and red wine on the table

If you’re a little overwhelmed by all this information, and wanting to get to the good bit, don’t worry, we have you covered. Here are some great food and wine combinations to get you started:

  • Spicy dishes go well with sweet, fruity wines.
  • High carbohydrate dishes are great with acidic wines.
  • Rich meats are amazing with high tannin wines.
  • Light meats go well with a Pinot Noir.
  • Acidic foods and acidic wines match perfectly.
  • Dessert wines are wonderful with sweet treats.

What’s that? You want specifics? No problem. Try out these great combinations:

  • Pair salmon with a dry, medium bodied Chardonnay.
  • Pair lamb chops with a bold Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Match a mushroom risotto with Pinot Noir.
  • Combine the delicate flavors of seafood with Pinot Grigio.
  • Pair a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with a fruity rosé.
  • Refresh your palate after a salty snack platter with sparkling wine.
  • Pair a delicious paté or mousse with a Zinfandel.
  • An old favorite is oysters and champagne.
  • Serve an Italian pasta with a Chianti.
  • Enjoy your sushi with a dry Riesling.
  • Finish off your meal with a chocolate dessert and warm ruby port.

How to Enjoy Your Wine Pairing at Home

High-quality wood wine racks

Whether you’re an aspiring wine collector or just someone who would like to impress their partner with the occasional well-paired wine, it is lovely to have a wine rack in your home. For the more experienced collector, there is always the option of having your own cellar.

At Wine Racks America, we have a broad range of wine racks and home cellar options, and our expert team can set you up with the perfect solution for your needs and wants. We offer a wide range of styles, designs, and building materials to suit your budget as well as your tastes.

Choose from our range of high-quality wood wine racks that are hand-made in the USA, or select from our metal range. Otherwise, give our team a call so they can measure your house up for a professionally installed at-home cellar, so you can grow your wine collection without limitations and explore your new hobby.