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10 Tips For Wine Pairing

Pairing food and wine can be a hassle especially when you visit a winery and don't want to spoil your meal. The characteristics of a wine and the components of a dish should be in balance. Here is a list of 10 tips given by our wine experts at Aerie's Winery to ensure your wine and meal choice complement each other.

Tip 1: The wine should be more acidic than the dish.

Tip 2: The wine should be sweeter than the dish.

Tip 3:The wine should have the same flavor intensity as the dish.

Tip 4: Red wines pair best with bold-flavored meats (e.g. red meat).

Tip 5: White wines pair best with light-intensity meats (e.g. fish or chicken).

Tip 6: Bitter wines (e.g. red wines) are best balanced with fat.

Tip 7: It is better to match the wine with the sauce than with the meat.

Tip 8: More often than not, White, Sparkling, and Rose wines create contrasting pairings.

Tip 9: More often than not, Red wines will create congruent pairings.

Tip 10: Choose a wine type and food you know you'll enjoy!

Here are a few examples of common wines and what to pair with each kind.

Cabernet Sauvignon: a full-bodied red grape first heavily planted in the Bordeaux region. Today, it’s the most popular wine variety in the world! We recommend pairing them with lamb, beef, smoked meats, French, American, firm cheeses like aged cheddar, and hard cheeses like Pecorino.

Syrah: a full-bodied red wine that’s heavily planted in the Rhône Valley in France and Australia. These wines have intense fruit flavors and medium-weight tannins. Syrah is commonly blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to create the red Rhône blend. The wine often has a meaty (beef broth, jerky) quality. We recommend pairing with lamb, beef, smoked meats; Mediterranean, French, and American firm cheeses like white cheddar, and hard cheeses like Spanish Manchego.

Zinfandel: a medium-bodied red wine that originated in Croatia. Zinfandel is a red grape that may be better known in its pink variation, White Zinfandel. We recommend pairing with chicken, pork, cured meat, lamb, beef, barbecue, Italian, American, Chinese, Thai, Indian, full-flavored like cheddar, and firm cheeses such as Manchego.

Pinot Noir: a dry, light-bodied red that was first widely planted in France. These types of wines typically have higher acidity and a soft, smooth, low-tannin finish. We recommend pairing with chicken, pork, veal, duck, cured meat, French, German, cream sauces, soft cheeses, and nutty medium-firm cheeses like Gruyère.

Chardonnay: a dry full-bodied white wine that was planted in large quantities for the first time in France. When oak-aged, Chardonnay will have spicy, bourbon-y notes. Unoaked wines are lighter and zesty with apple and citrus flavors. Chardonnay is the white grape of Burgundy. We recommend pairing with lobster, crab, shrimp, chicken, pork, mushroom, French, cream sauces, soft cheeses such as triple cream brie, and medium-firm cheeses like Gruyère.

Sauvignon Blanc: a dry white grape first widely planted in France. These wines are tart, typically with herbal, “green” fruit flavors. We recommend pairing with fish, chicken, pork, veal, Mexican, Vietnamese, French, herb-crusted goat cheese, and nutty cheeses such as Gruyère.

Pinot Gris: a dry light-bodied white grape that is planted heavily in Italy, but also in France and Germany. These wines are light to middle-weight and easy to drink, often with some bitter flavor on the palate. We recommend pairing it with salads, delicate poached fish, and light and mild cheeses.

Riesling: Always very high in acid, when made as a table wine Rieslings can be harmoniously sweet or dry. The wine is polarizing because some people find dry styles too acidic and sweet styles too cloying, but the sweetness is always a winemaking decision and not inherent to the grape. We recommend pairing with chicken, pork, duck, turkey, cured meat, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, German, washed-rind cheeses, and fondue.

We hope you find these tips as useful as we did. If you have any further questions about pairing or just wine in general, we have an excellent Sommelier on site!

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