How to Pair Wine and Food

Wine pairing can seem complex, especially if you are looking to fine-tune and add a spectacular match between your food and wine. However, if you are armed with the right information, you can achieve a great dining experience. Consider these basic elements of food and wine matching.

Some of the basic elements to consider when pairing food and wine are:

  • Weight
  • Intensity of the flavor of the wine and its characteristics
  • Acidity of the wine/food
  • Salt in food
  • Sweetness
  • Tannin


This simply means that you have to strike a balance between the richness of both the food and the wine. None should overwhelm the other regarding flavor. Successful pairings ensure that the richness of the flavor of the food and the wine are at par is the secret behind common great wine-food pairings.

Hearty meals go well with hearty wines. In practice, rich foods such as red meat casseroles will call for full-bodied, rich wines. Most people will want to combine red wines with red meat, but what matters is the weight of the wine and not its color. Same applies to lightweight foods such as poultry and fish which should be paired with lightweight, delicate wines.

Flavor Intensity and Characteristics

It is important to understand the most dominant characteristics and elements in wine and food before pairing them. This will be key in fine-tuning the wine to food. Most often, you might realize that the main ingredient in the food might not be what constitutes its dominant flavor. Sometimes it’s the sauce that carries the flavor, and hence you will have to match the wine with the sauce.


Fatty foods will go well with acidic wines, having the same effect that lemon has on the greasiness of smoked salmon. Foods can as well be acidic, such as tomatoes, green apples or citrus, including some varieties of grapes.

In this case, you might consider using high-acid wines when vinegar or lemon juice is used as a condiment. Champagne is a good choice for cutting through the oiliness of fish. In short, when considering pairing food with a given wine subscription, you need to first consider the acid in both the wine and the food.


Pair salty foods with sweet wine. For instance, you could serve some salty nibbles with champagne just before a major meal. Dry wine with some tannins and acidity is a great bet when served with salty foods.


The wine you have chosen should always be sweeter than the food. Always serve wine that is as sweet as the food or sweeter than the food. The sweetness strikes a great balance in the saltiness of the food and the acidity of the wine.


This refers to the bitterness that is found mostly in red wines, and are attributed to the skins and stalks that are added to red winemaking. In this case, when food has more texture (fatty and chewy), going for wines with more tannins is excellent. You will realize that when you drink this wine, your gums tend to pucker and dry because your saliva has protein molecules and tannins are attracted to fatty proteins.

Finally, remember that the more the wine matures, the more its tannins subsides, leaving it graceful and delicate. Go for foods with low richness in flavor for this choice of old wines. Try a wine subscription so you can experience different flavors your normally wouldn’t buy as well.