2 Rules for Perfect Pairings Every Time

By Jacqueline Strum

There's a mountain of information out there telling you exactly what to drink alongside each and every food. The only issue is we aren't typically staring into the never-ending-abyss of the internet when we're sitting down to eat.

That's why having some general knowledge and simple rules to follow can make a huge difference in easing the confusion come dinner time.

The Two Big Rules.

My go-to pairing rules that follow are rough guidelines but should work in most cases. That said, never feel embarrassed of what you like. If it doesn't fit into these or anyone's idea of what you're "supposed" to enjoy who cares - drink like nobody's watching!

1. Like with Like

It sounds so simple even a child could do it, although they shouldn't...because they're children. Whatever you're about to sit down to enjoy think about its flavor components and try to pair it with something similar.

If the food is light and delicate enjoy it with a light and delicate wine. An example would be baked trout with fresh herbs and Sancerre. Sancerre is a crisp, fresh sauvignon blanc grown in the Loire region of France. It has refreshing acidity, lean stony flavors and an herbaceous quality. On the other hand, if you’re sitting down to slice into a big, juicy meat dish like a grilled steak, go with a bold and juicy wine like this California Zinfandel.

2. Opposite with Opposite

What you're really looking for are what's commonly called contrasting pairings. These kinds of flavor combinations can create an explosive new flavor when put together on your palette by pairing any particular wine with its opposite food pairing.

With anything super salty try it with something sweet like a rich savory Stilton Blue with an off-dry German Riesling. (Off-dry means slightly sweet. Who knew, right?) Or on the other end – crispy, oily fried chicken pairs well with its opposite – a bright and light sparkling wine! Similarly, Champagne and french fries are a match made in Francophile heaven.

Foolproof Pairing

When it all becomes too much to plan or if you’re doing pot luck style and don't know what to expect, there are always a few fail-safe workhorse wines to serve. The best way to choose one of these universal-pairing wines is to select one typically middle of the road in style with light fruit, bright acidity and generally just crowd Adele's next single.

Great examples of these would be something like an Oregon or any cool climate Pinot Noir. Pinot has delicious fruit and the cool climate (literally grown in a colder place) means it will be lighter and higher in acidity. It will pair with fish, meat and vegetables. Another great option is dry rosé! Yes, rosé isn’t just for fun -- it’s also for food. It’s light fruit and high acid makes it a perfect pair-all with almost any dish your guests throw at you. Plus - who doesn’t like to drink pink?

To sum everything up, depending on what you’re eating try to either pair it with a similar flavor profile or its exact opposite for nearly perfect matches every time. When all else fails pop open some rosé and call it a day. #roséallday

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