Wine and food pairing is a common practice to please palates. Culinary experts devote their careers to learning which wines pair best with which foods and finding the right wines to pair with standalone dishes and desserts is part of the wine and food pairing process.

The art of food and wine pairing has some fundamental rules, but once you learn them, you may utilize your creativity to create unforgettable pairings! It’s crucial to realize that even if the suitability principles offer direction, you do not need to adhere to them strictly. Since every person has a different set of tastes, it is challenging to establish criteria for a flavor combination that will appeal to everyone equally. Experts from the Milwalky Trace restaurant explain these principles of food and wine pairing:

The rule of flavor

The five flavors our oral receptors can differentiate are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. Each of the five flavors uniquely impacts the wine; some soften and enhance its fruitiness, while others cast the beverage in a negative light by upsetting its harmony and bringing out its sharpness and even bitterness. 

  • Sweet wine and dessert can be a special treat for those with a sweet tooth. Dessert wines complement cakes, pancakes with syrup, gingerbread, berry rolls, spicy muffins, and sweet pies. The wine should not, however, be sweeter than the bite itself, as this will cause the flavor to wane.
  • Acidity: Acidity is the “tartness” of anything. The dishes that go well with tart wines are either sweet or fatty.

The aromas rule

Wines with a comparable aroma intensity should be combined with foods with intense aromas. Pick wines that have flavors and aromas that are similar to the cuisine. For example, dishes like fish with lemon go well with white wines with citrus undertones, such as Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Noir is perfect for mushrooms, which take on notes of underbrush, soil, and truffle.

The contrast rule

You should serve a simple, bright wine with a rich flavor and aroma, like Australian Shiraz for a simple dish, and a good and acceptable wine in terms of status, such as Pinot Noir from Burgundy for a sophisticated cuisine. Contrasting flavors balance each other out. In a wine and food match, the characteristics of the wine may help to temper the spiciness or acidity of the cuisine.

Texture counts

Fish and salads go well with light wines; fatty foods are best paired with full-bodied wines, and vice versa. A dry wine with strong acidity will bring more energy and offer lightness.

Regional affinity

Local cuisine goes well with wines created from locally cultivated grapes. For instance, Georgians tend to pair salty, spicy foods with Saperavi.

Simplified tips for pairing food and wine

  • White pasta, fish, and white meat pair well with white wine. Red meats and sweets go best with red wines.
  • Rich meats and elaborate meals pair nicely with full-bodied wines.
  • Seafood is a typical match for rosé wine.
  • Fruits, shellfish, and cheeses go well with sparkling wines.
  • Sweet treats go great with dessert wines.
  • Sweet dishes and sweet wines go together well.
  • Pasta and chicken dishes pair nicely with light-bodied wines.