A Beginner’s Guide to Pairing Food and Wine - By Julian Pancer - The Chef Upstairs

A Beginner’s Guide to Pairing Food and Wine - By Julian Pancer

Finding the perfect wine pairings for your delicious meal can absolutely elevate your dining experience. Great food and wine pairings can help create a balance between flavors in a dish and the natural characteristics of the wine.Wine and food pairings can seem complex. But here is a basic tutorial to get you started with matching wine with food.

8 Major Tips For Matching Wine with Food:

  1. The wine should have the same flavour intensity as the food.
  2. The wine should be sweeter than the food.
  3. The wine should be more acidic than the food.
  4. Red wines should be paired with bold flavours and red meats.
  5. Bitter wines help to balance fatty dishes.
  6. White wines should be paired with lighter flavours and fish or white meat.
  7. It is more ideal to match the wine with the sauce rather than with the meat.
  8. Sparkling wines help to cleanse the pallet and can create nice contrast, especially with fatty foods like cheese or butter sauces.

The main categories for pairings are congruent versus contrasting versus complementary pairings:

  • Congruent pairings create balance by honing in on shared flavours.
  • Contrasting pairings create balance by contrasting flavors.
  • Complementary pairings will enhance or add value to the main flavours in a dish.

Before you can understand how to make thebest wine and food pairings, you must first identify the primary and secondary flavours in both the food and the wine.

  • Primary flavours are bitter, sweet, salty, acidic, fat, and spicy.
  • Secondary flavours would be red fruit, oak, dry fruits, minerality, and a plethora of other potential flavour notes.

The main thought process is how can I improve this flavor experience by either adding more of the similar flavours through congruent pairings, or how can I add a different dynamic through contrasting pairings, or how can I add other flavors to compliment the flavours present in a dish through complementary pairings?

The good thing is the best practice is trial by taste. Get some friends together and sit around a table with an assortment of dishes/ingredients and wines and taste, taste, taste. Practice is the only way to find thebest wine and food pairings. Nothing can truly substitute personal experience and enjoyment!


Written by: Chef Julian Pancer

Search our shop