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Tips for Successful Food and Wine Pairings

While you can pair your favourite wine with any meal, that doesn’t mean you should. The right wine will complement your meal, while the wrong food and wine pairing can ruin a dish. Your dish should have balance, but many factors affect your final choices.

From protein to plant-based meals, you will find a wine for everything. But how do you know you’re choosing the right combinations? The Wholistically Healthy team share vital tips for the best food and wine pairings.

 Contact us via email to get specific advice on your food and wine combinations.

Pairing Proteins

Protein often forms the main component of your dish, making it especially easy to pair wine with the following meats:

  • Chicken
  • Seafood
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork

 In general, you should choose a wine that works with the dish’s flavours. For example, delicate foods should pair with light wines, while bold wines pair best with flavourful dishes. In rare cases, bold wine will complement a light dish appropriately.

Chicken

Chicken dishes pair best with white wines, light red wines, and Rosés. Chicken’s mild taste goes well with lighter wines like a Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and accentuates herbs and fresh flavours. Pinot Noir pairs nicely with roast chicken.

Spicy chicken dishes pair nicely with an acidic, slightly sweet wine like Riesling to offset the bite. Dark red wines go well with complex, sweet, yet spicy dishes. Barbeque chicken meals can play nicely with a bold Shiraz or Malbec.

Seafood

Seafood like shrimp and fish have milder flavours, which pair well with Rosé or white wine. Delicate fish pair best with a mild wine. Try Pinot Grigio for delicate fish like snapper and haddock.

Shellfish are versatile enough for lighter white and red wines. Robust-flavoured fish, including salmon and tuna, fit nicely with a light red wine or Rosé. Consider Champagne, Pinot Gris, or another wine with a hint of citrus notes.

Choose light wine like Chablis to add new elements of flavour to your dish. The dry profile also pairs well with various sauces.

Beef

Rich, flavourful beef dishes taste best with a bold accompaniment. Red meat pairs best with red wine. Consider Spanish Tempranillo with beef stew or burritos for its dark fruitiness.

The way you cook your dish will affect your final choice. Consider Shiraz’s sweet yet dry flavour profile for pairing with grilled, barbeque steak or try Malbec with Korean beef to bring out the bold taste of the Korean BBQ sauce. Pair grilled hamburgers with Cabernet Sauvignon for a smoky, savoury dish.

Roast beef and casserole dishes pair well with dry, acidic wine. Merlot is standard for its slight chocolate and fruit flavour.

Lamb

A gamey protein like lamb handles dark red pairings tastefully. Although lamb is delicate, its unique flavour demands a powerful, slightly fruity wine. Choose Merlot blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bordeaux blends for racks of lamb and braised cuts.

Lighter red wines pair well with milder cuts of lamb, while a glass of Shiraz will add a fruity spice that complements a roast.

Pork

Pork’s higher fat content requires a crisp wine to break through the rich flavour profile. Red wines are appropriate for the fattiest cuts of pork and bring out the subtle sweetness in the meat. White wine adds much-needed acidity to slow-cooked pork roasts.

Fruity and earthy wines work well with pork’s fattiness. Rich white wine such as Pinot Gris pairs well with buttery, creamy pork dishes. Try Pinot Noir for high-fat pork dishes, including pork belly and a Grenache blend with spicier pork meals.

Rosé is an excellent in-between for pork dishes. Its overall dry profile with slight sweetness pairs nicely with pork without overpowering the protein’s flavour.

Plant-based Meal Pairings

If you don’t consume animal-based protein, don’t worry! Vegetarians and vegans can also enjoy wine with their meals. Crisp wines are better for simple vegetable meals, while red wines are ideal for more complex dishes.

Vegetables take on the flavour of the other ingredients, requiring deeper advice. The acidity and dryness of white wines add freshness to green vegetables, while richer, darker wines are better for bold vegetable dishes.

Rich, Earthy Dishes

Earthy dishes need a wine that has the same notes. Pasta dishes with mushrooms, herbs, or other basic elements go well with Pinot Noir’s lighter-bodied, earthy characteristics.

Tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, and other bold flavours pair well with dark reds like Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon. The acidity, fruity notes, and overall earthiness highlight the sauce without overpowering the vegetables.

Light Vegetable Dishes

Green vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, lettuce, kale, and green peppers, are lighter in flavour and adapt to existing seasonings quickly. Highlight leafy green salads with Sauvignon Blanc or Verdejo to bring out flavours in salad dressing. Pinot Grigio compliments the acidity and crispness of green vegetables.

Chardonnay balances cream-based vegetable dishes with medium acidity, while sweeter wines like Moscato and Sauternes combat spice effectively.

Wines for Dairy and Dessert

You have an extensive selection of wines for pairing with sweet treats and rich cheeses. An overly sweet wine can ruin your dessert, while too-dry wines can have the same effect. Cheese and wine pairings are much more versatile.

Dessert

The wine you choose depends on the sweetness of your dessert. Fruity desserts pair best with late harvest Riesling for a sweet dessert wine and food combination that isn’t too sweet. Moscato and Asti Spumante also highlight the fruit in fruit-based desserts.

Fortified wine works well with chocolate desserts. The extra alcohol content and honey, caramel, and hazelnut notes make it the perfect pairing. Thick, creamy desserts including custard, mousse, and crème brûlée make an excellent complement to a glass of tropical, sweet Sauternes.

Cheese

Cheese enjoys a common wine pairing with many well-known combinations. Most cheese goes well with Rosé for its balance of acidity and fruitiness. Other cheeses may taste better with red or white wine.

Classic pairings include fortified Port with Blue Stilton cheese, Champagne and Brie, and many others. Many people choose wines opposite the cheese’s flavour profile. Consider pairing sweeter Sherry wine with a sharp Spanish Manchego or try a full-bodied combination like Chardonnay with Brie.

Aged cheddar and other complex, sharp cheeses demand a full-bodied wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. Soft cheeses warrant a delicate, lighter wine to avoid overpowering them. Acidity in white wines cuts through creamy cheeses and cleanses your palate.

Pairing Flavour Profiles

Dishes with unique flavour profiles and many ingredients can be challenging to pair with wine. In this case, you can match your meal with a wine based on the overall flavour profile. Generally, more bland meals pair best with light wines.

The more complex your dish is, the darker your wine can be. For a safe choice, try a Rosé or a light red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Grenache.

Sweet

Vouvray and Riesling are some of the best wines for sweeter dishes. Combinations of sweet and spice play off the slightly dry yet sweet white wine, calming heat in spicy dishes and emphasising sweeter ingredients.

Even sweeter dishes do well with Moscato or other dessert wines, while Muscadet provides a dryer profile with crisp, fresh notes that balance sweet treats.

Spicy

Heavily spiced meats such as chicken or beef pair well with light red to dark red wines. Wines with fruity, sweet, and spicy notes add balance. Try Shiraz for its chocolate notes and Cabernet Franc for its notes of chilli and berries.

Savoury

The more complex the flavour profile, the bolder your wine. Savoury, homestyle dishes like casseroles, pastas, and stews pair nicely with medium-bodied favourites, such as Pinot Grigio. Italian dishes taste best with Chianti or a deeper red wine.

Salty

Break up salty dishes with a refreshing glass of dry Champagne. You’ll appreciate the wine’s slight sweetness when pairing it with salty pasta or meat. High acidity breaks up salt from cheese, cured meat, and other cured foods.

Contact Us for the Perfect Food and Wine Pairings

At Wholistically Healthy, we have wine recommendations for each of our meals. Whether you practice a gluten-free or plant-based diet, we offer tasteful wine pairings that accent each dish. Contact us for helpful advice!

Our team is ready to advise Perth residents on Australia’s best food and wine pairings. Contact us for the best food and wine pairings for your Wholistically Healthy meal plan. Email us today if you require further information. 


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