Rules for Pairing Wine with Food

Despite what many might say, I do believe there are no hard and fast rules comes to pairing wine with food.   Let me start with one simple and clear declaration.  Pairing wine with a food is 100% up to whoever is eating the food and drinking the wine.   If you agree with this, then read on. Going to take some time to give you my basics to help you along the way. There are a few guidelines to keep in mind. There are some combinations that will just be odd to your palette. However, don’t allow yourself to be fooled by the old aged rule that says white wine must go with fish and red wine must go with steak. I think the first thing we should do is break that rule. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when pairing food with wine.

Here are my top 5 thoughts on food and wine pairing:

  1. Serve white wine with anything you can squeeze a lemon or a lime on.
  2. Try lower alcohol wines for spicy food.
  3. Match rich red meats with higher tannic reds.
  4. Connect the wine directly with the sauce for lighter meats like chicken.
  5. Select an early wine for an earthy food.

Sweet Foods and Wine

I always like to pair desserts and sweeter foods with an even sweeter wine the sweetness of the food will diminish the apparent sweetness of the wine make it taste more part and tannic.  For example, a delicious cheesecake will go great with a glass of Riesling while a rich piece of chocolate cake will really complement a port wine.


Sour Foods and Wine

If I’m eating something sour I really like to match it with a nice crisp white wine.  A good example might be Chinese food. Sour food will enhance the sweetness of a wine so it’s a great match for a good white. For example,  a nice fish with lemon sauce paired with the sewing oblong or Pinot Grigio will always set your heart flutter.


Salty Foods and Wine

If you are going to eat something salty like oysters then you’re going to want something a bit more robust.   Salty foods increase the fruity and sweet characteristics of the wine.  It pairs especially well with sparkling wines acidic whites and robust reds.

Bitter Foods and Wine

A  better food will increase the bitterness of a wine so it’s best to pair it was something less complex. For example, nice mixed green salad pair well with a rose or a Riesling. It’s important to find the balance between one food and your palate. 

Remember, that winemakers age wine in barrels and continue the aging process after it goes into the bottle, slaps a label on it and offers it to you.  When you take home a bottle of wine, you are taking control of the aging process itself.  If you really want to enjoy that bottle you just brought home, it is important to take on the responsibility of caring for it.   I highly suggest investing in a wine refrigerator. Most wine refrigerators will maintain the proper temperature and humidity needed to age wine. They’re not expensive.   Depending on how many bottles you wish to store,  a wine refrigerator can range in cost from under $100 to several thousand. However, most and up spending just a few hundred dollars to maintain their investments. It really depends how many bottles you want to hang onto before drinking.

So,  pick up a few bottles, store them properly, and start the drinking process.


Jason McClain, Proprietor
McClain Cellars



  • Rhonda
    Posted July 29, 2018 2:33 pm 0Likes

    I really enjoyed reading your wine and food pairings last night.

  • Christian Stanley
    Posted November 12, 2018 9:45 am 0Likes

    This is a fantastic quick recipe, thank you for the brilliant write up.

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