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5 Tips for Pairing Wine with Food

by David on December 13, 2010

Do you feel like you’re breaking the rules when you want a glass of red wine with your halibut? Are the old rules still valid?

You shouldn’t worry about this business of pairing. In my experience, most wines and foods taste pretty good together and an ideal pairing for one person isn’t necessarily the best one for the next. But – there are some easy guidelines, which are mostly common sense when you think about it – it’s just that most of us haven’t taken the time to think about it. Here goes:

1. Match weight for weight.  A delicate food flavor might be overwhelmed by the power of a big red wine, so you begin to think white. An assertive food flavor paired with a substantial wine can make a very satisfying partnership.

2. Consider the preparation. Maybe it isn’t the halibut that’s so much at issue as what you did to it. A simple sauté in butter is a fairly subtle flavor and a light or medium-bodied white wine might make a nice partner.

But, what if you grilled the halibut and served it with black olive tapenade? Much stronger flavors, right? A light or medium-bodied red could taste awfully good!

3. Complement or contrast. If you pair an earthy Pinot Noir with a mushroom paté you’d call that a complementary pairing.  Same thing when you serve a buttery Chardonnay with your butter-sautéed halibut. Too rich for your taste? OK – go for a contrast and enjoy a crisp, un-oaked Sauvignon Blanc instead.

Another example of a contrast: Serve hot, spicy food with a nice, chilled glass of slightly sweet Riesling or Chenin Blanc. Tastes great!

4. When it’s time for dessert, the wine should be at least as sweet as the food or it will taste sour.

5. Rules are made to be broken! If you like red with everything you’re the best judge of what makes you happy. Go for it! More information

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