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Food & Wine: How to Pair Perfection

Red wines go with red meats (like steak or lamb) and white wines go with white meat (like chicken or fish). It's a good rule of thumb, but you need to take into account the most important thing of all: flavor.

Get Complementary

Think about the seasonings and sauces in the food you're serving, and how wine can complement it. Making something spicy? Try tempering it with a sweeter tasting wine like a Riesling. How about a grilled steak? The rich dimensions of a Cabernet pair perfectly with grilled food. What about a light fish like trout or cod? Pair it with a zesty, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc.

Body

Red wines tend to have a richer flavour than whites, but this doesn't mean you can't pair a red with poultry. When you're choosing a wine, think about the wine's body. Pinot Noir is a red, but it pairs well with chicken because it has a light body. Some whites, like Chardonnay, have a fuller body and go well with heartier dishes, like those served in a cream sauce.

What Are You Serving?

If you're entertaining at home and plan on serving more than one type of wine, remember to serve the lighter wines before the richer wines. You may want to pair wines based on the origins of your food recipes. For instance, Italian dishes are best paired with bold Italian red wines. Up for a challenge? Try pairing recipes and wines by region.

Cheese Please

Fermented, aged and full of flavour, cheese and wine have plenty in common. This also makes cheese a good place to start if you're new to pairing. The different pungencies in cheese, and the range of acidities in wine can sometimes be difficult to balance. But when you pair them right, it can be heavenly. Try pairing softer cheeses, such as Brie, with a red like Zinfandel or Merlot. Or try goat cheese with a white wine or sharp cheddar with a fruity red such as Cabernet.

Experiment

Properly paired food and wine can make for a delicious meal (and some impressed guests). And while we've offered you some guidelines, the best thing to do is experiment. Enjoy!