Here are some classic food and wine pairing suggestions from www.BetterTastingWine.com that no connoisseur would argue:
- Chicken - Chardonnay or lighter reds such as Rioja, Barbera, Grenache, Pinot Noir
- Green Salad - Herby whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc
- Grilled Fish - Light- to merium-bodied whites such as Pinot Grigio, Chablis
- Pasta (red sauce) - Chianti, Zinfandel, Pinot Blanc
- Pasta (white sauce) - Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Viognier, Gavi
- Raw or steamed shellfish - Crisp acidic wines such as Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc
- Steak - Full-bodied reds such as Cabernet, Bordeaux, Merlot
To mix things up a bit, don't shy away from non-traditional pairings. For example, most people prefer Cabernet Sauvignon with red meat because they are both full-bodied and strong in flavor, and the protein in the meat lightens the tannin in the wine. But others might pair it with a lighter and fruitier Merlot or a fruity but full-bodied Chardonnay.
For every food action, there is a wine reaction. When you drink wine by itself it tastes one way, but when you take a bite of food, the wine tastes different. This is because wine acts as a spice. Elements in the wine interact with the food to provide a different taste sensation. Felicia M. Sherbert, author of The Unofficial Guide to Selecting Wine, offers her insight below on some basic wine and food interactions found on www.WineAnswers.com:
- Sweet foods like Italian tomato sauce, Japanese teriyaki and honey-mustard glazes make your wine seem drier than it really is, so try an off-dry or slightly sweet wine to balance the flavor, like a Chenin Blanc, White Zinfandel or Riesling.
- Acidic foods like salads with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, soy sauce or fish served with a squeeze of lemon go well with wines higher in acide, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Pino Noir. White Zinfandel, although not as high in acid, can also provide a nice contrast to high-acid foods.
- Bitter foods like a mixed salad of bitter greens, Greek kalamata olives and charbroiled meats accentuate a wine's bitterness, so they're best served with a full-flavored, fruity wine like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Robust tannic red wines, like many red Zinfandels and Shiraz or Syrah wines, will go best with your classic grilled steak or lamb chops, as the fat in the meat will tone down the tannin, or bitterness, in the wine.
- With strong-flavored Thai food, the classic gourmets would go for a full-bodied and complex Chardonnay, however the more adventurous might contrast it with a sweet and light Riesling.
One rule to follow when enjoying several wines in one evening still holds true today: White wine goes before red, light before heavy, young before old. Always feel free to stray from any rules, but this guidelines helps your palate adjust more easily. Most importantly, remember that rules are meant to be broken, so be sure to drink a wine you love and continue to explore different wine selections.