We’ve said this before and will stick by it. If you don’t like a wine, don’t feel like you have to drink it – even if it is the suggested wine for whatever meal you are enjoying. However, we also strongly recommend that, if you haven’t tried a certain wine/food pairing, you keep an open mind and give it a shot. All things being equal, some foods go better with some wines. There are few hard and fast rules, but some guidelines are:
- Big food needs big wines. Are you eating a big, juicy, peppery steak? A Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec is often a good choice. I like to think of a schoolyard brawl. What would stand up to a beefy bully (aka- peppery steak)? Probably not a flowery pinot grigio (best paired with light seafood dishes). You want something that can stand up to a bully. A Cabernet Sauvignon can do that.
- Creamy or fatty fish dishes like salmon, anything with cream sauce, shrimp scampi… these are often best served with Chardonnay. On the spectrum of whites, Chardonnay is (for lack of a better word) heavier. Its silkiness often goes well with these types of dishes.
- Spicy? Your best bet is an off-dry (meaning not totally dry, but not super sweet) Riesling or Gewürztraminer.
- Salty foods. Are you ready for this? I hate to burst your bubbly, but “junk foods” like potato chips, pizza, and egg rolls pair amazingly well with champagne. Again reinforcing that there is no need to hold your sparkling wine for fancy-schmancy times only.
The moral of the story is: don’t be afraid to stick with what you like, but don’t be afraid to branch out, ask questions, do some research and take pairing suggestions. You never know when you might stumble upon a wine that you didn’t even know you would enjoy – all because of the food with which it was paired.