At Pippin Hill, pairing world-class wines with excellent cuisine is our passion, but it’s certainly a skill that takes time and experience to master. When it comes to pairing food and wine, it’s difficult to make the right choice, but it’s important to make the correct match to highlight both the food and wine for the ultimate dining experience. Bookmark this page for your next dinner party, because we’re sharing our expert how-to guide to perfectly pairing wine and food!
Let’s start with the basics. There are two main ways to pair food and wine: contrast pairings and synergy pairings. Contrast pairings combine two complementary flavors. For example, everyone loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because it combines two seemingly disparate flavor types into the perfect taste. The same rule applies to wines. If you have a fish with a creamy lemon sauce, pair it with a crisp, acidic wine like Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity of the wine cuts through the creaminess of the sauce to give the palate a balanced, refreshing sensation.
A synergy pairing hones in on a specific flavor. For example, if you put chocolate sauce on top of your chocolate ice cream, you are combining sweetness for a rich double-chocolately flavor. You can do this with your wine too. For example, if you have the aforementioned fish with the creamy sauce, you could choose a creamy, buttery chardonnay to accentuate the sauce’s flavor.
Things to consider when pairing food and wine:
- How was the dish prepared?
- Do I want to balance the flavors or emphasize one of them?
- Am I highlighting the wine or the food?
- What are all the different flavors at work?
Tips and Tricks:
- The intensity of your dish needs to match or be slightly less intense than your wine to ensure your palate’s best experience of both wine and food.
- Your sense of taste is derived from your sense of smell. To introduce the flavors of the wine to your palate, be sure to smell the wine before you taste it.
- Quality Control: High-quality food calls for high-quality wine.
- Fatty dishes with bitter wines always work.
- Never pair spicy foods with bitter wines. When you have a spicy dish, go for a sweet white wine.
A Few of our Favorite Pairs, Course by Course:
For canapés, drink a light wine without lots of accessible flavors. The versatility of the wine makes for an excellent pair with multiple flavors. For example, a sparkling wine pairs with an assortment of foods. The pairing may not be as strong or complementary as you would want for the main dish, but for canapes with lots of flavors, an accessible wine like our Sparkling Blanc de Blanc is perfect.
Light and sweet white wines pair well with cured meats like salami and prosciutto. The lightweight and salty meats balance and compliment the sweet wine.
For food that is charred or smoked, especially on a grill, pick a smoky wine that enhances the flavor of your dish. Red meat is the most commonly chosen meat in such a pairing, but when prepared with a smoky undertone, poultry can be an ideal pair as well. Peppery foods are also a match for smoky wines. On our menu, our Cabernet Sauvignon is smoky and versatile – the perfect pair for your grilled meats.
Rich red wines tend to contain a high amount of tannins, giving the wine a slightly bitter taste. Tannin can leave a chalky feeling in your mouth, so pair a bitter red with a roasted or braised meat dish. The weight of the fat will remove the chalky sensation to better compliment the wine.
Our Merlot tends to be a medium red with chocolate, caramel, and coffee flavors. For the perfect synergy pairing, serve Merlot with a rich, sugary dessert.