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Wine and Food Pairing Tips – Wines That Pair Well With Popular Cuisines

Wine and Food Pairing Tips

Wine and food pairing is rarely a simple task, particularly with the varied diets that most folks partake of today, both in terms of ingredients and cooking styles. What kind of wine, for instance, is best to pour with tom yam kung or a spicy curry ? Following, are some wine and food pairing tips that help to answer those questions.

Sommelier and Chef Working on Wine-Food-pairingBut let’s start with something a lot more conventional. Everybody knows that cheese and wine are natural partners, like Fred and Ginger, they go with each other like peas and carrots, if you’re talking wine and food pairing tips, you’re talking wine and cheese, right? Well actually , that depends on what type of cheese and which wine.

Hard cheeses like aged Gouda or Mimolette are amazing with an aged Bordeaux or an excellent Syrah. As for blue cheeses, Roquefort and Sauternes is a classic pairing, Stilton and tawny port go well together, and for blue cheese in general, Malmsey Madeira is generally a good wine to go with. If you’re looking for a match for natural rind goat’s cheese, Sancerre or Soave are both good choices. For white, young Brie or Camembert, the best options are either a top quality Chardonnay or white Rhone, and for mature versions of these popular cheeses, red wine works better. I recommend a young Syrah, Grenache, or St-Emilion. If you’re serving a rindless fresh cheese, like cream cheese or mozzarella, then a simple Bordeaux blanc, white Rhone, or young Beaujolais are all good pairings .

Cheese is complicated, but Christmas dinner–turkey, gravy and all the trimmings–is easy. At least for my palate, there are a couple of wines that are the perfect compliment to a traditional Christmas dinner: high-quality Burgundy or vintage Veuve Clicquot rose Champagne. Neither of these two recommendations is cheap of course, but hey, Christmas is not a time to pinch pennies. That second, extremely specific recommendation is one I got from Ed McCarthy’s authoritative tome, Champagne For Dummies. I heeded his advice and was impressed at just how well the pairing worked. And fortunately, as vintage rose Champagnes go, Veuve Clicquot is moderately priced.

It’s time to take a look at which wines pair well with less traditional foods. As I talked about in the intro, a variety of ethnic cuisines are extremely popular these days. If you’re having sushi, or other Japanese food, I recommend pouring Japanese wine. Koshu, a white wine made from the Japanese grape of the same name, which is related to Sauvignon Blanc, is a great pairing for sushi.

A wine that pairs really well with Korean barbecue is a potent Californian Petite Syrah. Korean barbecue is a favorite treat with my family, and we usually pour a bottle of Eos Estate Reserve Petite Syrah with it.

For Thai cuisine, if the dominant flavors you’re attempting to pair with are lemon grass and ginger, then what you need is a pungent new world Sauvignon Blanc (preferably from New Zealand), or Riesling–either Australian or a German Spatlese. For dishes that contain coconut milk, Australian Chardonnay or Verdelho, Alsace Pinot Blanc or Gewurztraminer, or even non-vintage Champagne or Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine, are all excellent options.

In the case of Indian curry, try a medium-sweet white served very cold, such as, South African Chenin Blanc, Alsace Pinot Blanc, Cava or non-vintage Champagne. It is also possible to go the opposite route and emphasize the curry’s spiciness with a very tannic red such as Barolo or Barbaresco, or a full-bodied Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Amarone. As a rule of thumb though, white wines go better with hot and pungent dishes, and you particularly want to stay away from tannic reds.

Last but no least, let’s focus on one last popular food, or rather cooking style: barbecue. As is normally the case with wine-food pairings, it’s tricky to give a simple, definitive reply to the question, Which type of wine is best to serve at a barbecue? That of course primarily depends on what’s on the grill; the reply is not the same for tri-tip, shrimp and hamburgers. Another thing to consider though is whether you’re having a black tie or t-shirt barbecue. If you feel the need to be fancy, you can offer a classic Bordeaux blend with your steak, Pinot Noir with your Alaskan king salmon, or Alsace Riesling with your king crab and shellfish. If this is a more relaxed affair, then Zinfandel or Beaujolais are better selections. One great point about Beaujolais is that, despite the fact that it’s a red wine, it’s served chilled. That fact means that it’s a refreshing libation for a summer barbecue.

If you’d like more wine and food pairing tips, specifically about wine tasting in Santa Barbara County, then visit our sister website , Santa Barbara Wine Tasting.

Speaking of wine and food pairing tips and wine tasting, the Santa Barbara Wine Country, with its large number of excellent wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms is a wonderful place to do just that. For tips on exactly which wineries to visit on a Santa Barbara wine tasting tour, click on the link.

5 Responses so far.

  1. John says:

    This post is very informative. Thanks! I’ve read that wine and food pairing is also based on the color of food (e.g. white meat, like chicken, goes well with white wine). Is it true?

  2. Flora Rouse says:

    I am in the process of becoming a caviar lover, and I have already become a wine lover, so I kind of missed 1 piece of information. What wine could go well with black and also with red beluga caviar? This food in itself has a special aroma and sensation in the mouth, so I can’t imagine what kind of wine is usually preferred to accompany it.

  3. Carrabine Merced says:

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    • Monica says:

      Hi Summer! I’m glad you like the new Blog, Thank You!!! The statistic you are referring to was accurate at the time. The economy has certainly had a dramatic affect on the wine industry. Currently, the number of wineries listed at 700+. There have been some major changes recently, but it seems to me that most of them have been larger producers reducing their portfolio size. The biggest affect I have noticed has actually been on the distribution side, with many small distributors having a tough time competing with the big boys. The average cost per bottle has gone down for consumers, and the small distributors just don’t carry products in the current popular price ranges. I’m hopeful that this will start to trend back towards the higher side so we don’t lose access to some of the amazing wines that they carry though! Unfortunately, the large distributors won’t talk to wine makers producing less that about 10,000 cases annually. Keep checking back here, I will be introducing new wines both here, and at the Greenbank Farm Wine Shop, as we bring them in! We’re your best source for small production Washington Wines.


  4. [email protected] Mon says:

    My anniversary date with my hubby was totally a success. I simply followed your tips and voila I seemed to have made a fine dining restaurant in the comfort of my own home with less expense of course and more privacy. My husband, surprised with the all of a sudden expertise I got with wine and food pairing, was very much appreciative of my efforts. Well what can I say? I learned from the expert so please accept my heartfelt gratitude. I’m hoping to get more information from you soon. Thanks a lot!

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