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How to Pair Wine with Food – Meats

How to Pair Wine with Food – Meats

How to Pair wine with Food - Meats

How to Pair Wine with Food – Meats

When it comes to enhancing a meal, the pairing of wine and food plays a pivotal role in elevating both the culinary experience and the enjoyment of the wine itself. This art, though rooted in tradition, offers ample space for creativity and personal expression. For this Master list, first we will explore the foundational principles of wine and food pairing. Then we’ll  follow up with a list of Wine and food pairings for the Meats and do Seafood, Cheeses, Desserts and Global Cuisines in other segments.

Foundational Principles of Wine and Food Pairing

Pairing wine with food is not just a matter of taste—it’s about balance, contrast, and enhancement. Here are some key principles to consider:

  1. Balance in Weight and Intensity: The intensity of both the wine and the dish should match to avoid one overpowering the other. Richer, heartier dishes, such as a beef stew, call for more full-bodied wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.
  2. Complementary Flavors: Similar flavors in both wine and food can enhance each other. A buttery Chardonnay complements dishes with creamy sauces, while a wine with citrus notes might pair well with a lemon-accented dish.
  3. Contrasting Flavors: Opposing flavors can create a pleasant balance. A crisp, acidic wine like Riesling can cut through the richness of a fatty dish, refreshing the palate.
  4. Tannins and Fat: Tannins in red wine interact wonderfully with fat in meat, as the tannins cut through the richness of the dish, cleansing the palate. This is why a tannic wine like Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic pairing for fatty cuts of beef.
  5. Acidity: Wines with high acidity can be very food-friendly. Acidity in wine acts similarly to how lemon juice can brighten a dish, highlighting flavors and cutting through fat. High-acid wines, like Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis, pair well with fatty foods or dishes with a heavy cream base.
  6. Spice and Alcohol: Spicy foods can be heightened by alcohol, so it’s generally best to pair spicy dishes with wines that have a lower alcohol content and perhaps a touch of sweetness.
  7. Regional Pairings: When in doubt, pairing wine and food from the same region is a reliable guide. Regional food and wines have often evolved together over time and naturally complement each other, such as Italian Chianti with pasta in a tomato-based sauce or Spanish Rioja with Iberico ham.
  8. Sweetness: The wine should be at least as sweet as the dish it’s paired with. Desserts and sweet dishes can make dry wines taste sour, so it’s preferable to choose a wine that has a bit of sweetness for sweet dishes, like Moscato d’Asti with fruit desserts or Sauternes with foie gras.

By considering these principles, you can make informed decisions that enhance both the wine and the meal, leading to a more enjoyable dining experience.

 First I Identified the top 25 wines in the world that are somewhat easy to find for Pairing with foods I am about to list. I also added red blends, Rose Champagne and dessert wines which can have different varietals, so I listed them towards the bottom. 

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Chardonnay
  3. Merlot
  4. Pinot Noir
  5. Sauvignon Blanc
  6. Syrah/Shiraz
  7. Zinfandel
  8. Riesling (Dry to Sweet)
  9. Malbec
  10. Pinot Grigio
  11. Sangiovese
  12. Cabernet Franc
  13. Tempranillo
  14. Moscato
  15. Grenache
  16. Gewürztraminer
  17. Gamay
  18. Chenin Blanc
  19. Viognier
  20. Mourvèdre
  21. Montepulciano
  22. Red Blend
  23. Sparkling Wine/Champagne
  24. Rosé
  25. Dessert Wines

If you have a favorite varietal not listed here, feel free to drop me a note and I can help you pair the wine with a particular food.

Master Wine & Food Pairing List

Meat and Poultry Pairings

Ribeye Steak (This includes Tomahawk & Ribeye Caps):

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – A classic pairing, as the tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon help to cut through the fat in the ribeye, while the bold flavors complement the richness of the meat.
  • Zinfandel – With its bold fruit flavors and peppery notes, Zinfandel pairs wonderfully with the robust flavor of ribeye.
  • Malbec – Known for its rich, dark fruit flavors and medium to full body, Malbec can stand up to the bold flavors of a ribeye steak.
  • Syrah/Shiraz – The spicy and peppery notes in Syrah/Shiraz make it a great match for ribeye’s savory flavors.
  • Tempranillo – With its medium to full body and balanced acidity, Tempranillo can pair well with ribeye’s rich flavors.
  • Red Blends – With blends of Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet also a good choice

New York strip steak/ Skirt Steak:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – A classic choice for New York strip/ Skirt steak, as its fruit tones work well with the bold flavor of the steak.
  • Malbec – Its tannic structure pairs nicely with the rich flavors of a New York strip/ Skirt steak.
  • Syrah/Shiraz – A great match for New York strip/ Skirt steak, particularly if the steak is cooked rare, as the tannins will have more flavor to interact with.
  • Merlot – With its smooth tannins and fruity notes, Merlot can complement the flavors of a New York strip steak.
  • Red Blends – With blends of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet also a good choice

T-Bone:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: The high tannins and bold fruit flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon pair well with the richness of T-bone steak.
  • Zinfandel: The bold fruit flavors and moderate tannins of Zinfandel complement the flavor of T-bone steak.
  • Syrah: The bold fruit flavors and moderate tannins of Syrah pair well with T-bone steak.

Filet Mignon:

  • Pinot Noir: With its light to medium body, silky tannins, and subtle fruit flavors, Pinot Noir is an excellent choice for filet mignon.
  • Chardonnay: A rich, full-bodied Chardonnay can pair well with the leaner flavors of filet mignon, especially if it’s served with a creamy sauce.
  • Sangiovese: A medium-bodied wine with high acidity, Sangiovese can balance the rich, tender flavors of filet mignon.

Prime Rib:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: The high tannins and bold fruit flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon pair well with the richness of prime rib.
  • Zinfandel: The bold fruit flavors and moderate tannins of Zinfandel complement the flavor of prime rib.

Lamb chops:

  • Syrah/Shiraz: Its peppery and spicy notes can complement the earthy flavors of lamb chops.
  • Grenache: With its soft tannins and fruity character, Grenache can balance the fatty flavors of lamb chops.
  • Mourvèdre: Its high tannins and bold flavors can provide a nice contrast to the delicate texture of lamb chops.
  • Cabernet Franc: A medium-bodied wine with herbaceous notes and balanced acidity, Cabernet Franc can enhance the natural flavors of lamb.
  • Red Blends – With blends of GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre) also a great choice.

Venison:

  • Cabernet Franc: Its medium body, herbaceous notes, and balanced acidity make it a perfect match for venison.
  • Tempranillo: This wine’s savory and earthy flavors can complement venison’s natural flavor profile.
  • Pinot Noir: With its light to medium body and subtle fruit flavors, Pinot Noir can provide a nice contrast to the gamey flavors of venison.

Pork Chops:

  • Pinot Noir: With its light to medium body and delicate flavors, Pinot Noir can complement the leaner cuts of pork chops.
  • Chardonnay: A rich and full-bodied Chardonnay can pair well with pork chops served with a creamy sauce or fruit-based accompaniment.
  • Gamay: This light-bodied red wine with fruity and earthy flavors can balance the flavors of pork chops.
  • Viognier: Its floral and fruity notes can complement the flavors of pork chops, particularly when paired with a sweet and savory sauce.

Hamburger:

  • Zinfandel: The bold fruit flavors and moderate tannins of Zinfandel pair well with hamburger’s savory flavor.
  • Merlot: The smooth tannins and fruit flavors of Merlot complement hamburger.

Poultry

Chicken (Grilled):

  • Sauvignon Blanc: Its crisp acidity and refreshing flavors can balance the smoky flavors of grilled chicken.
  • Pinot Grigio: With its light body and fruity notes, Pinot Grigio is a refreshing complement to grilled chicken.
  • Chardonnay: A full-bodied Chardonnay with subtle oak notes can add depth and complexity to a grilled chicken dish.
  • Riesling (Dry): Its high acidity and mineral notes can provide a nice contrast to the flavors of grilled chicken.
  • Gewürztraminer: Its spicy and floral aromas can enhance the flavors of grilled chicken, especially when served with a sweet or spicy glaze.
  • Pinot Noir: With its light to medium body and delicate flavors, Pinot Noir can be a great match for grilled chicken dishes that include mushrooms or earthy flavors. 

Chicken (Baked)

  • Chenin Blanc: Its apple and pear notes can complement the natural flavors of chicken, while its high acidity can balance out any richness.
  • Riesling (Off-dry): A slightly sweet Riesling can add complexity to a baked chicken dish and can work particularly well with dishes featuring fruit or honey-based glazes.
  • Chardonnay: A full-bodied Chardonnay can add richness and depth to a baked chicken dish.
  • Pinot Noir: With its light to medium body and delicate flavors, Pinot Noir can be a great match for baked chicken dishes that include mushrooms or earthy flavors.
  • Rosé: The crisp acidity and fruity flavors of Rosé can provide a refreshing contrast to baked chicken.

BBQ chicken wings.

  • Rosé: A sparkling or chilled rosé can be a great choice for BBQ chicken wings, as the bubbles can extract sweet smokiness from wings doused in honey or mesquite BBQ sauce.
  • Syrah/Shiraz: This wine’s peppery and spicy notes can enhance the flavors of BBQ wings, especially if they have a bit of heat.
  • Garnacha: Its fruity and earthy notes can complement the smoky flavors of BBQ wings.
  • Zinfandel: With its bold fruit flavors and peppery notes, Zinfandel can balance the smoky flavors of BBQ wings.
  • Pinot Noir: With its light to medium body and delicate flavors, Pinot Noir can be a great match for BBQ chicken wings.

Smoked chicken wings

  • Tempranillo: With its smoky and savory flavors, Tempranillo can be a perfect match for smoked chicken wings.
  • Syrah/Shiraz: Its peppery notes and bold fruit flavors can enhance the flavors of smoked chicken wings.
  • Pinot Noir: With its light to medium body and earthy flavors, Pinot Noir can complement the smoky flavors of smoked chicken wings.
  • Malbec: Its rich, dark fruit flavors and medium to full body can balance the smokiness of the wings.
  • Viognier: The floral and fruity aromas of Viognier can provide a refreshing contrast to the smoky flavors of smoked chicken wings.

Duck:

  • Pinot Noir: The light body and earthy notes of Pinot Noir complement the gamey flavor of duck.
  • Syrah: The bold fruit flavors and tannins of Syrah pair well with duck’s richness.

Turkey:

  • Sauvignon Blanc: The high acidity and citrus notes of Sauvignon Blanc complement the mild flavor of turkey.
  • Chardonnay: The full body and creamy texture of Chardonnay balance the richness of turkey.
  • Pinot Noir: With its light to medium body and earthy flavors, Pinot Noir can complement the dark meat of turkey.

 

Vino-Rater

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