Food and Wine Pairings

Wine and food pairing shouldn’t be difficult, and isn’t as complicated as many people make it out to be. The old rule about white wine with fish and red wine with meat made perfect sense in the days when white wines were light and fruity and red wines were tannic and weighty. But today, when most California Chardonnays are heavier and fuller-bodied than most California Pinot Noirs and even some Cabernets, color coding does not always work. Keep it simple and follow this simple guideline: Pair lighter bodied wines with lighter bodied foods and richer wines with richer foods.

Example Let’s take a salmon fillet. If you poach a salmon fillet and serve with a light, lemony cream sauce, I would suggest a lighter-bodied white or even red such as a Sauvignon Blanc, dry Riesling or perhaps a fresh Beaujolais if you enjoy red wine. If you use a spice rub on your salmon fillet and grill it, I would suggest a domestic Pinot Noir, Rhone-style blend (Syrah/Grenache) or a nice red Zinfandel.

Bottomline What you are really matching isn’t the salmon fillet. Rather you are matching the method of preparation or sauce.

Selected dry and off-dry white wines (lightest to weightiest)

Soave, Orvieto, Pinot Grigio

Off-dry Riesling

Dry Riesling

Muscadet

Champagne and other dry sparkling wines

Chenin Blanc

French Chablis and other unoaked Chardonnays

Sauvignon Blanc

White Bordeaux

White Burgundy

Pinot Gris (Alsace, Tokay)

Gewürztraminer

Barrel-fermented or barrel-aged Chardonnay (United States, Australia)

Selected red wines (lightest to weightiest)

Valpolicella

Beaujolais

Dolcetto

Rioja

California Pinot Noir

Burgundy

Barbera

Chianti Classico

Barbaresco

Barolo

Bordeaux

Merlot (United States)

Zinfandel

Cabernet Sauvignon (United States, Australia)

Rhone, Syrah, Shiraz