There are a few fundamental basics in understanding how to complement your food with a fantastic wine. These rules are here to help you get the best flavours out of your food, by balancing the components of a dish with the characteristics of a wine. Naturally, rules are made to be broken, but we suggest mastering these before learning to create your own pairings.

1) Pair Fatty Foods with High Acid Wines

Think about the way lemon cuts through smoked salmon- high acid wines cut through foods in a similar fashion. The general idea is that wines from cooler climates will be more acidic than from warmer climates. A perfect pairing to the oily smoked salmon would be our Misty Cove Signature Sauvignon Blanc.

glass of white wine on a table with a fresh tomato salad

2) Pair Red with Red and White with White

Arguably one of the most well-known ‘wine rules’, it is often best to pair red wines with bold flavoured meats (i.e. red meat) and white wines with light, delicate meats (i.e. white meat). You can think of this in terms of weight, for example rich and heavyweight foods such as a beef stew would pair excellently with a full-bodied red wine, whereas a lightweight food such as sea bass would be best paired with a white wine.

lovely dinner party with fresh fish served with red and white wine

3) Match the Wine to the Sauce

This allows Rule 2 to be a little flexible, as it is often thought that white meat should only ever be paired with white wines yet this is not always the case. In the instance of the white meat being served with a sauce, it’s best to reflect on the flavours of the sauce and not the meat itself. This is because in a dish with white meat, the meat often isn’t the primary flavour. Consider chicken breast served with a delicate white wine sauce, and then chicken breast served with a zesty red wine sauce. You’d find it best to pair the lighter sauce with a white wine such as our Burrowing Owl Chardonnay and the richer sauce with our Ondarre Reserva Rioja 2008.

plate of fresh salmon in a red wine sauce served with a glass of italian red wine

4) Consider the Style of Food

If you’ve got a salt beef sandwich and you want a glass of wine to pair it with, it’s a little silly to crack open that Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for it. A regular bottle of Pinot Noir will do just fine. However, consider pairing the prime USDA sirloin steak with that prized bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to allow the powerful, opulent flavours to join.

delicious juicy sirloin steak in a red wine sauce

5) Don’t Overload on Sweetness

When it comes to dessert (arguably the best part of the meal!) people often fall into the trap of pairing too much sweet together. Desserts that are sweeter than the wine it’s paired with will make the wine taste dull and knock any character out of the wine. A perfect pairing would be a not-so-sweet dessert such as a tarte tatin paired with our Quails’ Gate Riesling Icewine.

delicious fresh apple tart tatin