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Wine Pairings Demystified

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The wide array of grape varieties used in winemaking alone means that there is an almost limitless world of tasting possibilities available to the wine enthusiast. However, to drinkers just learning to appreciate the nuanced subtleties of a finely crafted vintage, learning what types of wine best enhance the flavors of a specific meal can seem intimidating. Fortunately, identifying ideal food and wine pairings is as easy as understanding the basic flavor profiles and how they interact with the flavors of common dishes. 

Wine Pairings Demystified cheese and fruit

The following tips can help make wine pairings a little bit easier.

Pasta (Red Sauce or Pesto)

The characteristic freshness of the tomato and pesto sauces heavily featured in Italian-style cuisine, make it an ideal match for the medium body and approachable flavors of a Barbera wine. Even simple dishes such as spaghetti shine as part of this time-tested combination, making wine like these popular choices at restaurants.

Pasta with white sauces, such as chicken alfredo, tend to have more delicate flavors, and are better matched with white or rose wines.

Beef, Steak and Lamb

Hearty cuts of meat typically have deep, smoky or peppery flavors. This makes them good choices for the complex nature of a Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be a fuller-bodied and highly satisfying wine that complements heavier meals perfectly, and its range of flavor notes makes it a reliable choice with dishes that play on multiple flavor profiles.

Wine Pairings Demystified red wine in glass

On the Barbie

Distinctive and spicy, Gamay and Malbec wines are a perfect partner for the appealing seared flavor of grilled meat and vegetables. Be sure to serve the wine slightly chilled to present a refreshing contrast with the fresh-fired foods.

Poultry and Cheeses

Poultry often has lighter flavors that can be easily overwhelmed with a red wine that’s too imposing. Therefore, the light fruitiness of Merlot wines makes them an excellent choice with chicken or turkey dishes.

Merlot also forms a delicious duo when paired with fruit based dishes or milder cheeses. A slightly more challenging poultry pairing option for drinkers seeking to expand their palate is Pinot Noir, whose medium body and drier profile works equally well with cheeses.

Wine Pairings Demystified glass of white

Spicy Foods

Foods that rely on heat to enhance their flavors require a wine with both depth and sweetness to present a pleasing contrast as well as soothe the palate. Sangiovese wine is a great choice with spicy foods. This versatile wine is also a compelling match for humble dishes such as meatball sandwiches and pepperoni pizza, allowing wine enthusiasts to experience a taste of refinement regardless of what’s on the menu.

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