Choosing the perfect wine to accompany a delicious meal feels like it should be a fairly simple endeavor, but finding the ideal bottle of red or white wine can prove fairly challenging for wine drinkers that don’t know what they’re doing. These are a few tips for pairing certain popular foods with wines:
Congruent Versus Contrasting Pairings
The first thing to note is that there is no one single wine that best fits a certain meal. Thankfully, with so many delicious high-end wine pairings possible these days, it is easier than ever to find something that pairs well with just about any snack or main course.
One way in which this proves true is in the concepts of congruent and contrasting pairings. A congruent pairing creates balance in a meal by amplifying certain shared flavors, while a contrasting pairing highlights the flavors in food and wine by contrasting them. There are, in most cases, rather different congruent and contrasting pairings for most foods, which is important to remember when selecting a bottle at your friendly neighborhood wine store.
Red or White?
Knowing that, should you choose a red wine or a white wine to accompany beef? Chicken? Pasta? The following takes a look at some of the best pairings for each:
Beef dishes tend to be both hearty and filling, so pairing beef with a bold red is a great way to complement those flavors. A Shiraz can go well with the smoky flavor of a grilled steak, while we recommend less tannic reds for leaner cut of beef. Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot all are examples of good options to pair with beef dishes.
Obviously, lumping all chicken dishes into the same flavor profile is irresponsible since there are so many ways to prepare this meat, but for lighter, fresher chicken dishes, we often recommend a Chardonnay or a Pinot Grigio. There are chicken dishes that pair well with reds, however, especially if the dish uses a darker sauce or gravy. In this instance, a Pinot Noir or Shiraz would be a nice pairing.
For many oil fish dishes, a Pinot Gris is a safe option, while we often suggest pairing a French Sauvignon Blanc with milder fishes or a White Zinfandel with denser fish courses.
Like everything else on this list, finding the right wine for a dish matters greatly on the flavors in the dish, but when it comes to pasta there are a few simple tips that can help you find the right pairing. For example, medium-bodied red wines like Sangiovese or Zinfandel go great with tomato-based dishes, with full-bodied white wines and lighter reds like Chardonnay or Pinot Noir are better for cheese-based pasta dishes. We usually recommend lighter whites with seafood pastas and primavera pastas, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
Consult a Wine Expert
At the end of the day, if you are ever stuck and need help, just ask someone at your local high-end wine store to give you a hand. Here at Hargrove’s Fine Wine & Spirits, we offer a wide-ranging selection of delicious wines, and we always are happy to help customers find the perfect pairing for whatever meal they may be planning.