The world of wine can be daunting at first glance. There are hundreds of varietals and an almost endless number of brands. It only becomes more complex when you want to add a food pairing with a glass of wine. But never fear, we’re here to give you a quick guide and a couple pointers to choosing the right wine to pair with your next meal.
Finding the perfect wine and food pairing is not only a tasty adventure but also an intellectual one. Before we dive into wine and food pairing basics, let’s get familiar with universal wine lingo.
Words You Should Know
Acidity refers to a wine’s tartness. When we say a wine is fresh or crisp, we really mean that the wine has high acidity. Acidity is what makes your mouth water…and helps you to digest your food!
When we use the term body to describe wine, we refer to the weight of wine, or how much alcohol is present in the wine. Heavy-bodied wines include Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, while lighter-bodied wines are Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. There are three types of body used to describe wine:
When a wine is called dry, it just means that it has little to no residual sugar.
Tannins in wine come from the grape’s stems, seeds, and skins as well as the barrel the wine was aged in. They cause a drying sensation in your mouth. Tannins add body to a wine, so you’ll want to choose a food that can stand up to the tannins.
Fun fact – tannins are also found in walnuts and unripe bananas.
So why pair wine with food?
Because it makes everything taste better! Pairing wine with food is a great way to experience all that wine has to offer. When food and wine complement one another, they bring out characteristics you might not recognize on your own. It’s an adventurous process that takes your dining experience to new levels.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Blend
Bold and intense, the Cabernet Sauvignon’s dark fruity taste matures with time. This full-bodied wine would completely overpower a light dish, like some fish. Lean into the rule that red wines go with red meats. To complement the weight of a Cabernet, we recommend pairing this wine with a heartier and richer dish such as steak or lamb. Meats like steak and lamb have plenty of fatty proteins that coat your mouth with each bite. This filmy coating diminishes the flavor of your next bite of food, but taking a sip of Cabernet Sauvignon, whose high levels of acidity and tannins cuts through this fatty coating to clear your palate, making each bite as delicious as the first.
Choosing the right Cabernet is as important as choosing the right piece of meat. We recommend Cabernet Sauvignon from Black Box and Franciscan. With a hint of vanilla, Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon’s enticing aromas of black currant and toasty oak, leads to a soft and lingering finish that pairs well with the robust palate of red meat. Also, check out Franciscan’s Cabernet Sauvignon. Its rich aromas of dark cherry and plum are highlighted by undertones of vanilla, clove, and sage. This cabernet’s fruit and oak elements lead to a structured finish that naturally complements steak.
If you’re looking for a red that’s slightly sweeter, try Apothic Red. As a full-bodied red blend, Apothic Red is made from a variety of different red wine grapes. Like the Cabernet this specific blend pairs well with richer entrees and meat dishes.
Masterfully crafted, Apothic’s Red has generous notes of red fruit and faint hints of spice. This daring blend finishes with long-lasting notes of mocha and soft vanilla that gently accompany steak or lamb.
As the world’s most popular white wine, Chardonnay’s versatile taste and aromas provide a wine for everyone. Generally, this wine has strong notes of fruit and a rich, creamy texture that pairs well with a variety of foods. However, Chardonnay is almost always the go-to pair for grilled lobster. With its white meat and delicate flavor, lobster prefers a light companion. Chardonnay’s crisp flavor and notes of citrus bring some symmetry to a lobster dish’s texture and palate weight. Also, consider salmon as a possible pair to your next glass of Chardonnay. As a rather versatile fish, salmon can go with most wines depending on how it’s prepared. If accompanied by butter and herbs or smoked, salmon pairs perfectly with Chardonnay. Since its a medium to full-bodied wine, Chardonnay can match the heavy richness of salmon.
We have two great Chardonnays that could be the ideal partner for your next seafood dinner. Edna Valley’s Buttery Chardonnay opens with delicate aromas of crisp apple, lemon zest, and cream. A beautifully balanced Chardonnay from the Central Coast, this Buttery Chardonnay will pair gracefully with a nicely grilled lobster or a smoked salmon. We also recommend Chardonnay from Clos Du Bois. Its intense aromas of apple blossom, ripe pear, and sweet lemon drop with hints of toasty oak and cream truly flesh out the full flavor of lobster. The silky texture of this Chardonnay, overlaid with bright fruity flavors bring a level of acidity and mouth feel that compliment lobster’s buttery flavor and salmon’s heartiness.
Sauvignon is the flagship varietal of New Zealand. This version of the Sauvignon Blanc is heavily influenced by the tropical growing conditions of the country. Sauvignon Blanc is a more versatile light-bodied wine, pairing with a variety of foods. The Sauvignon Blancs hailing from New Zealand have notes of tropical fruits that make it crisp and refreshing. So, when looking for a food pairing think “what grows together, goes together.” Apart from its Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand showcases a vast seafood repertoire that would pair perfectly with its varietal of Sauvignon Blanc. Food that is light and fresh, like white meat fish and shellfish, would be an ideal food pairing for this wine. A simple garnish of lemon and herbs will highlight the crisp flavors found in the wine. Since the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has notes of tropical fruit, incorporating sweet and savory food such as chicken with a pineapple garnish would also gracefully complement the fresh flavors of this white wine.
Two Sauvignon Blancs come to our mind when looking for this refreshing white wine. Starborough’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc opens with aromas of citrus and peach, its smooth crisp palate offers appealing notes of grapefruit and lime with bright hints of tropical passionfruit, guava, and kiwi. The subtle touches of lemongrass in the finish delightfully work well with a bite of lightly seasoned seafood. We also recommend Nobilo’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Intensely flavored by passionfruit and pineapple, and the subtle hints of green herbs, this white wine brings the fresh, crisp flavors of tropical fruit that highlight its light and savory food pairing.
With its pretty pink hue, Rosé has become the “it” wine of the summer. Its dry, yet sweet, taste showcases flavors of red fruit, melon, citrus, and flowers. As stated earlier, red wine and white wine have their classic pairings of red and light meat. However, if you’re looking for a light-bodied wine, go for a rosé. Rosé’s dry and fruity flavor matches the tangy and sweet flavors of BBQ. Try a glass of rosé with some pulled pork. Though most varieties of wine can pair with BBQ meat, Rosé is far more versatile and tastes great with all sorts of flavors ranging from smoked pepper to tangy lemon zest.
We recommend Dark Horse’s Rosé. This pink wine boasts a refreshingly dry style that bursts with flavors of fresh red fruit that all lead to a crisp finish. For pork, Rosé offers a good level of acidity that cuts through the fattiness of pork while also
enhancing the flavor of the meat. Dark Horse’s Rosé’s subtle hints of floral and light minerality complement not only BBQ pork but also the variety of flavors that BBQ offers.
Sparkling wine is the go-to for celebration, but it could also be the go-to for dinner. The bubbles from this light-bodied sparkling wine stimulate the palate and Prosecco’s hint of sweetness and bright acidity complement the brilliant spices found in Southeast Asian curries. Milder and sweeter chicken, seafood, or vegetarian curries are highly compatible with a sparkling wine, such as Prosecco.
Pop open a bottle of La Marca’s Prosecco. La Marca’s Prosecco opens with aromas of fresh citrus, honey, and white flowers. With a clean palate of ripe lemon, apple, and grapefruit flavors, this Prosecco is light and refreshing. Wines, like Prosecco, have higher acidic levels that complement the elevated acidity levels found in curries. And if you’re aiming for a Thai curry, La Marca’s Prosecco has enough acidity to balance the richness found in the coconut milk base of the curry. So, celebrate dinner with a glass of La Marca’s Prosecco and a curry, whose variety of spices bring the already sweet, fruity notes of Prosecco forward to shine.
When discovering the right food and wine pairing, keep in mind to have fun and ultimately drink what you enjoy! And drop by your nearby Stater Bros. Markets to find ingredients and wines to carry out your wine and food pairing journey!