Last week, we explored some of the worst wine pairings possible. This week, we get to turn the table and look at some of the best wine pairings possible. We’ll end with Karen MacNeil’s pairing guidelines from her book The Wine Bible.
Best Wine Pairings – Starting with the Foods
- Barbeque. If you’re thinking barbeque, think Syrah. Your next pick would be Zinfandel. If you have a dish with a lot of barbeque sauce, go with Malbec.
- Mushrooms. With a big, earthy mushroom dish, you need Pinot Noir.
- Red meat. Juicy red meat is perfect with Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet’s firm tannins refresh the palate after each bite of meat.
- Cheese. Rich, cheesy dishes pair beautifully with Dry Rosé, which has the acidity of white wine coupled with the fruit character of red.
- Light fish. Light fish dishes go nicely with Pinot Grigio.
- Heavy fish. Heavy, fatty fish dishes work well with Chardonnay.
- Salt. Anything salty will be a perfect match for Champagne or sparkling wine. My personal favorite is potato chips and Sparkling Wine.
Best Wine Pairings – Starting with the Wines
- Off-dry Riesling. The slight sweetness of many Rieslings tames the heat of spicy Asian and Indian dishes, making for a perfect pairing.
- Sauvignon Blanc. This crisp wine has a high level of acidity and a lot of citrus. It goes well with a lot of different dishes. Here are some of the best pairings: feta and goat cheese, poultry, seafood, green apple, chives, tarragon, cilantro and citrus.
If You’re in Charge of the Wine for a Potluck
When choosing wine for a potluck, you want to pick wines that are likely to go with the most number of dishes. For whites, your best bets are Sauvignon Blanc and off-dry Riesling. For reds, your best bet is Pinot Noir.
Karen MacNeil’s Lessons on Wine Pairings
I love the way Karen MacNeil approaches wine pairings. She talks about everything being a guideline meant to be broken. She encourages us to be adventurous with our pairings. Here are seven of her guidelines:
- Pair great with great and humble with humble. PBJ and a big, bad Cabernet will not work.
- Match delicate to delicate and robust to robust. A delicate Pinot Grigio might disappear in the face of a big, juicy steak.
- Decide if you want to mirror a given flavor or set up a contrast. Lobster in cream sauce with Chardonnay is mirroring. Lobster in cream sauce with Champagne is contrast.
- Pair dishes containing fruit with fruit-forward wines.
- Pair salty food with an acidic or sweet wine.
- Pair high-fat food with an equally rich, intense, structured and concentrated wine.
- Pair desserts with a wine that is sweeter than the dessert. Otherwise, the wine will taste dull.
I’d love to hear about your best wine pairings. Please share them with us here. Thanks.
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Dear Betty: I enjoyed so much your article and have a total coincidence with your appreciations.
With all due respect, I would dare to suggest you other matchings we use to match in Argentina like:
Goat meat with sparkling wine.
Goat cheese with Chenin blanc.
Goat cheese with a light, fruity Malbec (a no oaky one) or Bonarda.
Bushmeat with Cabernet sauvignon and strong Malbec.
and of course “the typical Argentine match” BBQ (Asado) and strong Malbec.
Javier, thank you so much for your wonderful (better yet, WINEderful) suggestions. Greatly appreciated. Cheers!