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Wine & Food Pairing: An Easy Guide

Wine & Food Pairing: An Easy Guide

Throughout our adult lives, we are told that certain foods just don’t play nicely with certain wines. However, trying to remember which goes with which is often a culinary puzzle most of us don’t want to tangle with. I mean we know a dry white wine goes well with most fish, but beyond that we are often left holding the bottle, a little bewildered.

If you are able to have a sommelier at your beckon call, well, good for you. However, most of us don’t always have that sort of access to a a wine expert when we need it. There are a number of guides and even mobile apps, but ideally food and wine pairing is something you kind of want to know, in a photographic memory sort of way, and not something you want to be consulting your phone about each time you need to order, pour, or buy wine.

Recently Serious Eats posted a great slideshow with information coming from the top sommeliers in the country about what some of the worst wine and food pairings might be and why. Here is a few to avoid:

  • Tannic reds with raw fish – The wine makes the fish taste terrible and vice-versa
  • Cabernet with oysters – Oysters taste like old metal cans when paired with Cabernet
  • Spicy Curry with Champagne – A way to waste a good bottle
  • Heavily oaked wines with spicy food – Heat and oak just don’t get along

One takeaway from these few advisories is that bold reds and fish just don’t get along. But still, one needs to know how to pair successfully, not just disastrously. Well, the best visual I found on the subject of successfully pairing wine with food was on a few months back. The visual below provides a simple set of guidelines for 8 wine characteristics and the food with which to pair them. Sure, there are a few holes in this chart (fruit pairings are not represented and chocolate is actually fairly simple to pair) but it does make for an easily navigable chart that one may be able to commit to memory.

What are some of your favorite food and wine pairings?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


+ add your own
11:24AM PDT on Aug 18, 2013


10:13PM PDT on Aug 7, 2013

Thanks :)

1:59AM PDT on Aug 7, 2013

Thank you :)

10:09PM PDT on Jul 30, 2013

I hate to say it, but this chart does not look easy.

3:22PM PDT on Jul 30, 2013

Nice to know though I don't drink wine. It seems relatively straightforward but to hear some food snobs talk you'd think it was a science that can only be mastered by sophisticated, worldly la-dee-freakin-da types. Thanks.

8:20AM PDT on Jul 29, 2013

Can't read the info thingy.

6:48AM PDT on Jul 29, 2013

It's all about compatibility

1:45PM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

Interesting,Thanks for sharing

6:18AM PDT on Jul 28, 2013


4:10PM PDT on Jul 27, 2013

thank you for posting

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