Food & Wine Matching | Wine Encyclopedia

Food and wine matching is meant to be an art, but we prefer to think of it as an inexact science. A kind of muck-around, but with intent. You kind of know the big picture rules already – red wine goes with red meat, white wine goes with white meat and Champagne goes with breakfast – but there is always more than meets the eye and a world of experimentation to play with.

Our general rule of thumb follows some easy rules.

Food with salt, foods that are deep fried…

sure, salty and deep fried food may not be your life blood, but rip into some fish and chips or salt 'n' pepper squid or even a Dagwood dog and you may want to have a go at pairing some wine with it. Red wine and salt can clash pretty badly with an emphasis on bitterness in the wines, so grab whites instead. Crisp, acidic whites have the power to crash through the salt and refresh the palate. Try Riesling or Semillon for a start.

Foods that are sweet, desserts…

high sugar content foods aside, some things just taste damn sweet. Think plum sauce or even the richness of foie gras; think about some pates and even stews with fruits in them too. We all know desserts go hard on the sugar front but how do we foil both real and perceived sweetness? One wine match is to go with a sweeter style wine, make like go with like. High sugar content, high acid content Riesling or even late picked dessert wines are great, but also riper red wines with soft tannin structure like Pinot Noir can also work. Wines with a little fizz are often good with sweeter foods too – Moscato with a little frizzante is refreshing while dry sparkling wines can also foil sugary foods too. Try Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris/Grigio, dessert wines and sparkling wine.

Meats – red…

Yeah yeah, red wine and red meat. But when steaks hit the BBQ, anything can go. Boldly flavoured Chardonnay doesn’t go astray and even some Viogniers will have enough kick. Mind you, when you get a Shiraz Viognier blend open that works well too. Stews like to match up with heavier red wines – South Australian Cabernet, Shiraz and red wine blends work well. If you have sauces, try matching peppery wines with some spice – cool climate Shiraz, Pinot Noir and alternate varieties like Sangiovese and Tempranillo are great too. Try Cabernet, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, red blends.

Meats – white – White meat?…

Way too broad to pigeonhole. Pork is white, chicken is white. Both can be heavily flavoured. Best way to run at this is look to wines that complement the seasoning. Chicken does have an affinity with Chardonnay and slow cooked pork and Pinot Noir are ideal, but Italian herbs on chicken screams out for Pinot Grigio or even Sangiovese or other light bodied Italian red varieties while pork with crackling can take on wines from medium bodied Shiraz through to textured Sauvignon Blanc. White meat is often great as a blank canvas to experiment with wines – there is a much longer leash to play with white meat dishes due to their often ‘neutral’ flavours. Try – generally go for Chardonnay with chicken and Pinot Noir with pork, but their lots of scope to try different wines.


From raw to baked and back to stir fry, vegetables are often tricky with wines. White wines generally go best, red fruit tends to dominate the vegetal flavour profiles while some whites even have a little ‘vegetable’ element to their character. Try – Pinot Grigio, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc are all great.

Spicy foods…

Chili, Thai spices, hot stuff. Ring burning and delicious. What to do when the heat gets to hot? Wine often suffers under the mutilating hands of chilli enhanced foods but a wine that is cool and refreshing enough can just about stand up to the heat. Milder spiced foods and gentle curries are bloody excellent with Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc, with Riesling the stand out variety when super dry and with plenty of tangy natural acidity. And when in doubt, grab a beer. Try – Clare Valley or WA Riesling, Gewurztraminer, cold cold beer.

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