Which wine goes best with certain foods?
If you are hosting a dinner party and not sure which wine to serve, read our comprehensive guide on the grape varieties that pair well with certain food. You'll be sure to impress your diners and tempt their palettes with your knowledge and expertise.
There are a few basic rules for food and wine pairing that you should be aware of before selecting your chosen tipple. First of all, the wine should be sweeter than the food. Sweeter wines such as Riesling and Moscato compliment spicy dishes well. Don't pair bitter food with a wine that is high in tannin, instead pair with foods that have a higher fat content. Your wine should also have a higher acidity than the food, and avoid serving white wine with red meats.
The syrah, also known as Shiraz, comes from the same grape and is a full bodied wine that varies in taste depending on country. In France, it is has a spicy taste with tones of cracked black pepper where as an Australian Shiraz has more of a fruity berry taste. It comes with a high alcohol percentage so is best eaten with hearty meals such as a beef stew. The alcohol content in this wine also means that you should avoid pairing with spicy food.
Merlot is a smooth, medium to full bodied wine with tones of black cherry, plum, raspberry, chocolate and tobacco. This is a bold tasting wine so avoid pairing it with anything too light. This is also another wine to stay away from when eating hot and spicy foods because of the high alcohol volume.
A dry, medium to full bodied red, Malbec has notes of blackberry, plum, tobacco and cherry. Deep red in colour and with a deep texture, this wine goes well with leaner cuts of red meat. It is high in tannins and has a smooth silky finish.
A Pinot Noir is bright red in colour and is a rustic wine with an earthy flavour. With tones of cranberry, cherry, raspberry and plum, this goes particularly well with mushroom dishes such as mushroom risotto or with earthy and smoky flavoured herbs and spices.
Grenache is a medium to full wine with a mix of fruits and a cinnamon flavour. Don’t be mistaken by the almost translucent colour, this wine is strong in flavour with varying volumes of alcohol depending on where the grape was grown. The Spanish variety is full of spice with a high volume whereas the French form is low alcohol with herbal tones including oregano, tobacco and lavender.
This wine has varied flavours depending on where it is produced but generally it is a full-bodied wine with flavours of dark berries and savoury tastes including black pepper and tobacco. It’s aged in oak with notes of blackcurrant, cassis, blackberries and cherries. Full of tannins, this wine pairs well with food high in fat and protein.
Tempranillo is a medium-bodied savoury tasting wine with flavours of leather, tobacco and clove as well as cherries. It is a mild and smooth wine with tannin that lingers in your mouth after drinking.
A red Zinfandel, lighter in colour than a lot of other red wines, is a bold and flavourful wine with notes of blueberry, cherry, plum, cranberry, citrus, liquorice and black pepper. It is a fruity wine that finishes with a hint of spice. This is a particularly sweet wine that accompanies spicy food extremely well.
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Chardonnay is a wine of varying tastes, from heavy and rich to light and fruity or even an oaky taste. It all depends on where the wine was produced. The grapes grown in a colder environment will produce a wine with flavours of apples, pears, peaches and apricots whereas those from a warmer climate have the taste of tropical fruits such as pineapple and mango.
Sauvignon Blanc is a crisp, dry white wine with grassy flavouring. It ranges in flavour and can be quite a zesty wine. With tones of lime, green apple, kiwi, peach and nectarine as well as gooseberry, basil, jalapeño, grass and tarragon. The herby taste to this wine means it complements dishes made with green herbs including parsley, rosemary and basil. The acidity is high meaning that this wine also pairs well with vegetarian dishes high in fat.
Semillon varies in taste depending on the ripeness. Riper fruits including mango and papaya are found when the wine is made in warmer climates which also produces a high alcohol volume. In colder climates when it is less ripe, there are more citrus flavours including flavours of lemon, lime and grapefruit. It will also have a lower alcohol volume. Semillon pairs well with aromatic yet not too spicy dishes.
Most commonly, the Muscat grape is found in the sweet and sparkling wine, Moscato d’Asti. With tones of apricot, peach, nectarine, orange, rose, jasmine and caramel and with a low alcohol volume, this makes the Moscato an ideal wine to serve with desserts. It also works well with spicy foods due to the sweetness.
Pinot Grigio also known as Pinot Gris is a zesty dry wine high in acidity. With flavours of lime, green apple, pear, lemon and nectarine, it pairs well with Thai or spicy Chinese food. It also compliments lights meals, raw fish and fresh vegetables.
The main flavour in a Gewürztraminer is Lychee, however in higher quality varieties, you will also taste tones of red grapefruit, rose petal and ginger. Other flavours also include pineapple, peach, apricot, orange, honey, ginger, incense and cinnamon. It a sweet wine similar to Moscato but with a higher alcohol volume and less acidity. It pairs well with dishes that are aromatic and spiced with cayenne pepper, ginger, turmeric, madras curry and clove.
Riesling is a sweet, light and fresh wine that is high in acidity. There are dry varieties available however it is primarily a sweet wine with flavours of apricot, peach, apple, pear, lime, honeycomb and nectarine. It pairs nicely with spicy foods because of its sweet taste and high acidity.
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