The Ultimate Guide to Food & Wine Pairing

The Ultimate Guide to Food & Wine Pairing

When it comes to Food & Wine matching, it can feel like a minefield. Especially if you’re the one hosting and you’ve spent so much time working out what you’re going to cook, shopping for ingredients, and then spending hours in the kitchen. The last thing you need is the added pressure of working out what you “should” pair with the meal and thinking where on earth to begin. Well, my advice would be to pause right there.

I’m a big believer in NOT worrying about getting the perfect wine to pair with the dish, and instead just drawing on a few key principles of wine pairing (which I’ll touch on below), and ultimately choosing a wine that YOU will enjoy.

Wine is subjective, with such a lot to choose from, that at the end of the day, buying a good quality wine from a reputable Wine Merchant is the job half done! Wine Merchants are meticulous in sourcing their wines…trust me when I say they do not just buy any old wines to fill their shelves! So, buying wine from an independent wine retailer/merchant, either in-store or online, is often a great place to start.

Key Principles of Food & Wine Matching


It’s always useful to note that wines are made to complement the food/cuisine in that region. So, if you’re sat in a restaurant choosing a French-inspired dish off the menu, a good place to start is with their French wines. For example, Beef Bourguignon, which originates from Burgundy in France where they famously make Pinot Noir, then opting for a classic Pinot Noir is spot on. Or if you’re whipping up Steak and Chips at home, Argentina are renowned for their cattle, so look out for Argentinian wine, especially Malbec!

It’s all about balance…

We want the wine to complement the dish, not overpower it, and vice versa. Drawing on these principles of food and wine matching when choosing a wine will hopefully make the choice somewhat easier:

Delicately flavoured dishes: choose a delicately flavoured wine. White fish with spring greens pairs nicely with a light, crisp, dry white such as Picpoul de Pinet, Albarino or Pinot Grigio.

Rich, heavy foods: these are complemented by richly flavoured wines. Slow roasted lamb or roast beef with all the trimmings are complemented by rich, robust wines like Red Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rioja. Rich creamy dishes like Risottos marry well with rich, full-bodied white wines like oak-aged Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, or oak-aged White Rioja.

Spicy or aromatic meals: those that include ginger, chilli, lemongrass, and coriander, work well with aromatic, fruity whites such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Viognier. And if there’s heat from the chilli, wines with a little bit of sweetness work especially well as the sweetness balances the spice.

Acidic dishes: those with tomato bases pair well with light, fresh reds with good acidity to match the acidity of the tomatoes. Italian reds are a good place to start, for example Chianti or Nero d’Avola.

Fried foods: benefit from crisp, delicate, aromatic whites – this crispness helps balance the fattiness of the food. Fish & chips with Champagne is a match made in heaven! Or calamari with a Vermentino or Fiano from Italy.

All in all, choosing a wine from your local wine merchant or independent wine retailer, making sure it’s something that you yourself would like to drink, and keeping in mind a few key principles is all you’ll need to hopefully make choosing wine stress free. And one last thing, if you’re browsing the shelves in your local wine shop, don’t hesitate to ask for advice – you’ll find them full of knowledge, happy to help and they’ll point you in the right direction of some excellent wines!


Rachel Bradford,

Regional Account Manager 

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