7 Rules of Wine and Food Pairing

7 Rules of Wine and Food Pairing for $20.20 VBC Restaurant Week on May 24-31

By: Kelly Jensen Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels

Eating is such a pleasurable experience, whether you’re enjoying a roast beef, a saucy pasta, a fresh salad, or a sumptuous dessert. You will surely salivate seeing a table full of food.

You can eat to our heart’s content, but if you’re eating your food alone, you’re missing half of the experience. You can enhance your meal by pairing your delicious delicacies to the right bottle of wine.

But, with a wide array of wines to choose from, how can you find the perfect wine to match your dish? It may be overwhelming, complicated, and daunting to think. Don’t fret! This article has tips and basic rules on how you can pair your wine with several dishes. Take a read!

Earthiness and Earthiness

Pairing a similar flavor is the easiest way to go. When you echo the same characteristics of the wine and the dish, it intensifies the experience more.

A good example is pairing earthy wines with earthy dishes. An earthy flavor refers to the feeling in food that reminds you of the earth’s scent after a spring rain or cultivated soil. It’s not spicy, sweet, or floral.

Any Pinot Noir should have rich earthy notes that could perfectly pair with earthy ingredients like lentils, potatoes, rosemary, turnips, truffles, and mushrooms.

Rosé and Cheese are a Good Match

Rosé is commonly known as a summer wine. It is a delicate wine that tastes like fruit and flowers mixed.

This dry and bubbly drink goes well with almost any cheese. Just avoid those bolder and funkier types as they can overpower the drink.

Some excellent types of cheese to pair with this tart wine are salty fresh cheeses like Feta or Halloumi. Fresh cheese like burrata, goat gouda like black betty, aged sheep’s milk like ossau-iraty, and alpine cheese like summer-milk comté.

Pair your next bottle of rosé with classic cheese dishes like quesadillas, cheese pizza, three-cheese sandwiches, cheese souffle, or hors d’oeuvres.

Lemons and Unoaked White

Unoaked wines are wines aged in stainless steel vats. These wines have a lighter body than oaked ones. They have more fresh fruit flavors and less cedary, toasty, and vanilla character.

Pair unoaked wines like Albarino, with dishes that are squeezed with lemon or lime because the acidity from these wines elevates the flavor of the dish. You can perfectly pair a 2010 Pazo de Señorans Albariño Selección de Añada to grilled salmon, lemon chicken, scallops, or smoked sablefish.

It can also go well with pasta with lemon sauces and salads with light and lemon-based dressings. 

Less Alcohol to Hot Dishes

The high alcohol content of the wine can negatively accentuate the feisty and fiery flavors from chilies, spices, and herbs. You may want to pair them with wines that contain less alcohol.

You may also want to choose sweeter wines because sugar can neutralize the spiciness of the dish so you won’t end up burning your palette.

Your best choices are champagne and sparkling wines, rieslings, and albariño. Avoid wines like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, as well as oaky chardonnay when eating spicy Asian and Indian dishes.

Reds Meats with Red Tannins

Tannins add both bitterness and astringency in wine. The high tannin in red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon acts as a palate cleanser.

This characteristic can effectively cut the fattiness of red meats, making them a complementary pair. The bold flavor of the wine can also complement the boldness of the meat.

Pair the full-bodied, dense, and rich tannin of a Sassicaia 2015 with lamb, braised duck legs, or pan-seared sausages. 

Match the Wine With the Sauce

White meats like pork and chicken are usually bland and dry. A good seasoning or sauce is added to these meats to make them work.

Thus, if you’re pairing pork chops with wine, think of the sauce you’re matching. Pair a Portuguese Red with your grilled and barbecued pork chop and complement your lemon chicken with Albarino.

Go Light With the Dessert

Being the last course, you don’t want to overwhelm your taste buds with too much sweetness. Instead of choosing a sweet wine to go with your dessert, opt for lighter and less sweet options instead.

You may also want to consider the acidity and intensity of the wine. Your vanilla custard can go well with a demi-sec champagne, chocolates pair well with Pinot Noir, and apple pies go well with white wines.


Before pairing your wines to a dish, have a full understanding of the components of the dish. Determine the powerful flavors that dominate the dish. 

Also, distinguish the characteristics of the wine. Recognize the key aspects present in the wine that affect your palette, like the acidity, intensity, and sweetness. Try creating harmony between the flavors you’ve discovered. By knowing both your dish and wine, you’ll be able to create excellent food and wine pairings.


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