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Wine and Food Pairing

When it comes to matching food and wine, don’t worry about always following the common “rules.” While many wine drinkers stick to popular pairings, you’ll discover that through experimentation, some white wines may complement a steak and a robust red may add great balance to a grilled fish. So go ahead and throw out the rulebook and have some fun improvising and finding your own personality in paring food and wine.

A simple suggestion to remember is that wine should complement the food rather than dominate it, and vice versa. Just like you wouldn’t eat a delicate, paper-thin pastry shell with thick beef stew and baked potatoes, the same holds true for wine. You don’t want one to overpower the flavors of the other. The trick to keep in mind is that lighter foods tend to complement lighter wines, and heavier foods tend to complement heavier wines. It’s really that easy.

Although there’s always room for experimentation in pairing food and wine, it’s sometimes best to follow the most traditional and widely accepted preferences. Take a look at the popular dishes below and choose a Gold Medal Wine Club wine to accompany your favorite meal.

Pairing Wine with Meat & Fish

If you are serving... We suggest...
Bass Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier
Chicken

Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc

Chocolate Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel
Ham Syrah, Pinot Noir
Lamb Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir
Lobster Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, sparkling wine
Oysters Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, sparkling wine
Pasta with red sauce Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir
Pasta with white sauce

Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling wine

Pork Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
Salmon Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot
Seafood with cream or light sauce Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling wine
Shrimp Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, sparkling wine
Spicy food Syrah, Shiraz, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon
Steak and beef dishes

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir

Turkey Merlot, Pinot Noir
Veal Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Primitivo



Pairing Wine with Cheese

You may wonder why wine and cheese pairing parties are so popular, and it’s simply because the two have so much in common. Both are natural products that may be enjoyed while fresh, simple, and young, or in their more complex forms when they are aged and mature. Cheese tends to “smooth out” wine, and helps to bring out the best qualities in both.

There are so many varieties of wines and cheeses, that the pairing possibilities are endless. However, most consumers tend to find that white wines match best with soft cheeses and stronger flavors, while red wines match best with hard cheeses and milder flavors. As with any food and wine pairing, there are no absolutes in the world of wine and cheese, but below are some good guidelines to help you find your personal taste preferences.

If you are serving... We suggest...
Baby Swiss Sparkling wine
Bleu Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese
Brie, young Sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay
Brie, ripe Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel
Camembert Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, red Bordeaux blends
Cheddar, mild Chardonnay, Sparkling wine
Cheddar, strong Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel
Cream cheese Sauvignon Blanc
Danish Blue Cabernet Sauvignon
Feta Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese
Goat cheese Sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc
Gorgonzola Syrah, red Bordeaux blends
Gouda

Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion

Gruyere Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
Havarti Chardonnay

Monterey Jack

Chardonnay, Riesling
Muenster Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel
Pecorino Sangiovese, Sparkling wine
Provolone Chardonnay
Roquefort Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon
Stilton Port, late harvest Zinfandel, Syrah
Swiss Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc

 



Pairing Wine with Dessert


Pairing wines with desserts tends to be more difficult since virtually all desserts are sweet with quite an expansive range of flavors. The general rule of thumb is to choose wines that are sweeter than the dessert, so usually a Port, dessert wine, or demi-sec sparkling wine will be your best option. Of course, there’s always room for experimentation, but below are the most popular dessert pairing preferences.

If you are serving... We suggest...
Chocolate Port, Cabernet Sauvignon, Late Harvest Zinfandel
Cheese Cake

Sparkling wines, Dessert wines, Gewürztraminer

Fruit Pies Sparkling wines, Dessert wines, Ice wines
Nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, etc) Port, Cabernet Sauvignon, Late Harvest Zinfandel
Fruit Pastries Sparkling wines, Dessert wines, Ice wines

 

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