Betty's Wine Musings
Wine Pairing Rules - some rights reserved by CreationWines
Wine Pairing Rules – some rights reserved by CreationWines

Last week, in my blog article entitled “Introducing Tim Hanni’s VinoType Wine Tasting Experience”, I shared Master of Wine Tim Hanni’s wonderful VinoType concept, which is a way to categorize individuals to understand their wine preferences based on their individual physiology and life experience. This week, I would like to share some of the new wine pairing rules I learned from Tim at WineShop At Home’s recent national convention.

The long and short of it is to disregard most of the wine pairing rules we’ve learned. New Wine Pairing Rule #1: Pair the Food You Like with the Wine You Like

Tim used a great example to highlight how silly we wine drinkers can be on the pairing front. He said if you don’t like liver, who cares that Wine X pairs brilliantly with liver? Likewise, if you only like White Zinfandel, who cares that the wine world recommends a big red with that steak? Your White Zinfandel will go beautifully with that steak, thank you very much ☺ And Wine X will go beautifully with the dish that you feel like having tonight.

Happily, I think that many people are starting to subscribe to this philosophy of pairing the food they like with the wine they like, even if traditional “pairing laws” tell you otherwise.

Steven Kolpan, Professor and Chair of Wine Studies at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY, says it beautifully: “Let’s forget the ‘rules’ of wine and food pairing. The only rule should be eat and drink what you like, and do so responsibly. White wine with meat? Sure. Red with fish? Absolutely. Rosé with a Whopper? Knock yourself out. Bubbles with everything? A no-brainer.”

We are all different. We all have our preferences. And it’s all good! ☺

The Power of Salt and Lemon

Benay Bernstein wrote a wonderful piece about a “delightful adventure” in a wine class. “In front of us were two wine glasses, a water glass and six taste samples: salt, lemon, chocolate, rosemary, dried cherry and potato chips. With each of these flavors we tasted a 2006 California Sauvignon Blanc and… a 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Universally, we found that salt softens and smoothes wine, making white wine less sweet and red wine less dry. Lemon also has a salutary effect, sweetening both the white and the red and cutting into the tannin of highly tannic wine. Rosemary makes the Sauvignon Blanc metallic but works well with Cabernet… Neither wine worked well with the dried cherry and both were great with potato chips… Finding the best wines to serve at my dinners is now an adventure in discovery.”

In his presentation, Tim Hanni had us taste lemon and salt with our wine, and it made a huge difference, especially for hyper-sensitive tasters. For these tasters, licking a lemon before sipping a tart Sauvignon Blanc turned a tasting that was worthy of a wince into a tasting worthy of a smile. He talked about the importance of adding lemon and salt to most dishes to increase the enjoyment of the wine you’re serving.

Have Fun

I am really excited to follow Bernstein’s lead in doing some serious but incredibly fun taste testing. I would love for you to do the same and share your experiences here. Please pair different whites and reds with salt, lemon, chocolate, rosemary, dried cherry, potato chips and anything else that strikes your fancy, and share your discoveries here. I look forward to hearing about your discoveries.


As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Betty Kaufman, WineShop At Home

As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

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  1. Eat and drink what you like and so so responsibly. Words to live by!

    Betty have you ever thought about using your business page on Facebook as a place where people can go and ask you about pairings? kind of like ITM Computing does with their business page? You offer to respond in 48 hours .. something like that.

  2. I like this lesson in wine tastings! I have always felt somewhat bound to stick with the traditional pairings, and when I veered away from that felt a little guilty! But now I am relieved to know it all just boils down to your taste, which it absolutely should! Thank you for the permission to eat and drink as we love best; am looking forward to doing some of the tastings you recommend with the salt and lemon and chocolate (yum), and potato chips. Also, I read Chrystal’s comment and think she has a great idea for your business page…that would be a great way to build up your following, Betty!

  3. I agree I had salmon with a lovely Valpocello I had a great white from NZ with pork I say match the food and ine to your tastes.
    Great blog Betty

  4. Thanks for confirming that I can drink red wine, white wine, and bubbly wine with anything! It is nice to know that the wine world is relaxing a little bit about the whole pairing thing. By being creative with what you are drinking and eating you can open so many more possibilities in your dining experience. Betty, you’re the best!

  5. Really enjoyed the interesting bit about trying various wines with specific flavors, to experiment with which basic flavors bring out the best in a wine. I am going to try that with some of my favorite seasonings, such as basil, garlic, olive oil, turmeric and cardamom. Sounds like fun!

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