Five simple tricks to help you match wine to your food

by Alex Habachi

Whether you find yourself staring blankly at wine lists or sweating buckets at the thought of finding the right bottle for that romantic dinner at home, fear not! Here are some useful wine tips to help level up your food and wine pairing.

1. Go with the colour you want to drink
First up, don’t panic! The priority is to make sure you and your table have a drink that you enjoy, with or without food, so start by asking what colour everyone prefers and pick that. If anything, it should cut the list by two-thirds and make the selection more manageable.

2. Match the regions
As a wise wine guru once told us, food and wine from the same region are “made for each other and have grown up together.” So do your bit to encourage culinary romance by pairing your food with wine from the same region or somewhere with a similar climate.

3. Compare the bodies
When a wine is described as “rich and full bodied” it will more than likely go well with richer food. By contrast, light bodied wines are far better suited to lighter ingredients. Make sure your chosen wine is big enough to stand up to richer foods or delicate enough to compliment more refined dishes. Price may also come into play here – if your meal is rich, complex, and expensive, be prepared to pay a bit more for a ‘bigger’ wine.

4. Judge the core tastes
This is where things start to get tricky. Wine loves salty food as it helps to bring out fruitier characteristics, while sweetness does the opposite. Chuck in spice, sour, bitter and umami (the taste of ‘deliciousness’ - think soy sauce, mushrooms, parmesan, crab meat) and you’re getting into sommelier territory. A simple trick is to look at the wine’s flavour description and picture whether it could work as an imaginary sauce for your meal. If the idea of a wine with ‘crisp apple and zesty acidity’ matches well with pork loin in your head, chances are it’ll work for your palate.

5. Be wary of winemaking and vintage
Winemaking and vintage (age) have a massive influence over the taste of a wine. Generally, the older a wine, the more likely it will have been subjected to specific winemaking and developed a more distinct (and sometimes acquired) taste over time.

If you’re nervous about introducing winemaking and vintage into the mix, play it safe by avoiding wines that are any older than 2-3 years for reds, and 1-2 years for white wines. This should help by limiting your choices to younger, fruit-focused wines which are generally more accessible and versatile with food.

Granted, there’s a lot at play here (I haven’t even mentioned grape varieties) but food and wine pairing is as much about confidence and willingness to experiment as it is about knowledge. So give the wine tips above a go and for more food and wine pairing ideas, useful wine tips and help navigating the mysterious world of wine, join our mailing list and follow us on social media:

Alex Habachi
Co-Founder of Vinkind