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Tips on Serving and Pairing Wine with the Right Food

The flavorsome food matched with the depth of the perfect wine is absolutely amazing. With the availability of wine in different varieties and range of prices these days, there is no excuse to miss this palatable experience with food and wine. Here are some basic things you should remember to make food and wine pairing more enjoyable whether in a restaurant or at home.

It is safe to put hearty food such as stews and casseroles with full-bodied reds, and more subtly flavoured food with lighter wine. You don’t need to stick to the strict rules about chicken and fish being served with white wine and red meat with reds. You must instead consider the whole dish – if a chicken is served in a rich buttery sauce it might be better suited to a red Burgundy than a white wine.

If you plan on bringing a bottle of wine to a dinner party and you’re unsure of the menu, go for lighter wines such as Chablis, Muscadet, or a delicate Riesling, or light reds such as Valpolicella or a young fruity Pinot Boir. I personally favor bringing Muskat red wines to friends’ houses – a bold yet sweet choice; but then, taste can be cultural. It is just proper to bring something, especially if it’s a house dinner. Similarly if you are catering for a party, choose lighter wines such as Sancere, Sauvignon Blanc, Beaujolais, and Valpolicella. Allow half a bottle of red per person and a little more for white. In summer, trade Champage for a more economical bubbly such as Prosecco or Cava, and allow half a bottle per person.


Dense reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeax, and Barolo go well with roast beef; spicier reds such as Shiraz, Grenache, and Amarone are all good partners for hearty stews.

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Red Boreaux or Merlot are good overall choices, but for lighter lamb dishes choose a young Pinot Noir. If you are serving offal, partner it with a Barolo.
Beaujoais goes brilliantly with roast pork and cassoulet, although more full-bodied reds such as Shiraz mix well with sausages, while Chablis is a good choice for cooked ham.
Roast chicken can be served with Chardonnay or a white Bordeaux, but for heartier stews, choose a light Italian red such as Chianti or a Merlot.
Pinot Noir, red Burgundy, and Merlot are all good matches for game, although fuller-flavoured game dishes such as stews would be best with a full-bodied red such as Cabernet Sauvignon. More delicate game can be served with a lighter red, such as a Côtes du Rhone. For pheasant, try a dry Pinot Gris.
Delicate dishes should be served with light wines such as Sancerre, Pinot Grigio and Muscadet, while richer-sauced fish would work well with white Burgundy. Oily fish such as mackerel is good with Muscadet or Sancerre, and meatier fish such as salmon, oysters and lobsters all have a natural (and costly) affinity with Champagne.

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Vinegar-based dressings make salads hard to match with wine but try light rosés or citrusy whites such as Sancerre and Pinot Grigio.
Always serve wines that are sweeter than the food. For rich chocolatey puddings and fruitcakes try a Madeira, and for light fruit or creamy puddings an Orange Muscat or Sauternes.

 © 2010 Athena Goodlight

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