5 Simples Rules To Follow When Pairing Wine And Food

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Some advice for pairing food and wine can be overly strict. The truth is, you can eat whatever you want while drinking whichever wine you choose. Ultimately it comes down to your personal preference of both food flavours and wine.

So, it is important to start by saying that despite the title of this blog, there are no ‘rules’ when pairing wine and food. Simply do as you see fit and enjoy!

However, it has been a custom of many cultures that produce wine to pair it with complimentary food. Certain wines will enhance the flavours of a dish, and certain flavour combinations will bring out the more delicate notes of a wine.

While drinking any wine with a dish won't ruin a beautiful meal, choosing the right wine can enhance it, so let’s look at some basic rules when it comes to pairing wine and food so you can make the most of a decadent meal.

tips for wine and food pairing

5 rules to follow when pairing food and wine.

Many of us have heard the ‘rule’ of red wine with red meat and white wine with chicken or fish, but when looking to put a little more thought into your choice of wine, there are more factors at play.

Wine pairing is a complex and nuanced art. When done correctly, wine pairing can elevate a meal to new heights, bringing out the best in the dish and the wine. When pairing wine with food, there are several factors to consider. In no order, here are the most important ones.

Flavour intensity

Matching the power of the wine and the food is crucial. A heavy, flavourful dish can overwhelm a light-bodied wine, while a full-bodied grape overpowers a delicate dish. Pair a spicy dish with a sweeter wine to balance the heat. Similarly, a rich, full-bodied wine may pair well with a heavy, meaty dish.

Wine acidity

Acidity is an essential factor in wine pairing. Wines with high acidity cut through fatty foods, fitting nicely with grilled meats, creamy pasta, or fatty fish. A low-acid wine, on the other hand, complements more delicate foods, such as salads or seafood.


Tannins, responsible for the wine’s dryness, are a vital component of red wine. Tannins in grape skins give the wine its structure and mouthfeel, creating a drying sensation. These yellow-brown compounds can also be found in white and rose wines.

Wine sweetness

Sweetness in wine is a perfect pair for spicy or salty foods. Sweet wines can balance the heat or saltiness of a dish. They also pair well with desserts.


A wine’s body refers to its weight, complexity, and texture. Generally, full-bodied even out hearty, meaty dishes, while light-bodied wines pair well with lighter fare.

Examples of food and wine pairings

Using the general guidelines stated above, here are a few examples of the types of wine you could pair with your favourite dishes.

However, it is worth noting that factors such as sauces or side dishes may affect the choice you make, so once again refer to the above rules rather than blindly following these examples.

Pairing wines with poultry dishes.

White meat like chicken or turkey breast tends to match nicely with white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. On the other hand, darker meats like duck and game harmonise better with medium-bodied red wines like Pinot Noir or Zinfandel.

wine pairing for chicken dish

Pairing wines with red meats

When pairing wine with red meats, generally you will be looking for a fuller, richer wine to compliment the flavourful rich dish. But the type of wine you choose can also depend greatly on the type of sauce used in the red meat dish.

When it comes to pairing wines with leaner cuts of Beef, opt for light or medium-bodied red wines. These wines should have a touch of extra acidity, which helps to cut through the texture of the lean meat. For instance, if you're enjoying a top sirloin beef stew, consider a slightly bolder, medium red like Sangiovese for a good match.

On the other hand, when you're dealing with fatty cuts of beef, bold red wines with high tannin content bring out the flavour in both the dish and the wine. Tannins have an astringent quality that acts like a palate cleanser, helping to balance out the richness of the meat. Robust reds like Barolo or a Napa Cabernet work so wonderfully with a filet or similarly fatty cuts.

Lamb has a subtler flavour compared to beef, which means you'll want to lean towards lighter, delicately flavoured wines. Keep in mind that lamb tends to absorb the flavours of its accompanying sauce, so take the sauce into account when making your pairing choice. Pairing lamb with wines that are medium-bodied or have bold flavours with smoother tannins is a good match; wines like Malbec, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Touriga Nacional, and Petit Verdot.

wine pairings for red meat

Pairing Wine with Fish

Fish is the only ingredient that we would suggest choosing a specific wine for white. This is because red wines contain higher levels of tannin which interact with fish oils on your palate. In most cases, this interaction can leave a metallic aftertaste in your mouth. If you’re hoping to pair fish with red wine, opt for a low-tannin red wine.

When you are choosing a wine to go with a lean flaky fish such as seabass, cod or pike, look for a refreshing and zesty wine to compliment the delicate flavours of the fish. White wines such as a Pinot Grigio, Vinho Verde, Cava or even an unoaked Chardonnay can pair nicely with a lean fish dish. If you are feeling fancy, you could even pop a bottle of champagne when a lean fish meal for an extra touch of luxury fine dining.

wine pairings for fish dishes

Firmer, medium-textured fish like trout or halibut can handle richer sauces. Pair them with medium-bodied whites and full-bodied whites aged in oak. Some examples of wines that go delicately with this slightly richer type of wish are aged oak Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, White Rioja or Pinot Gris

Finally, when it comes to pairing a wine with a meaty fish such as tuna or salmon, the fatty texture of boulder flavour allows for a richer fine pairing which can even include rosés depending on the sauce used within the dish. Your wine pairing options could include a Viognier, White Burgundy, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne or a Dry Rosé. Once again if you are in the celebratory food and are planning on enjoying a little luxury you could pair a meaty fish with a decadent vintage champagne.

One of the only times a red wine will be suggested for a fish dish is when a strong-flavoured fish is used such as anchovies or sardines. This stronger flavour allows for a stronger pairing. A Pino Noir, Gamay or Dry Lambrusco Rosé would be a pleasant pairing.

H2-Pairing wine with vegetarian and vegan dishes 

Pairing wine with a vegetarian or vegan dish can be a little more complicated as the flavour of the dish often stems more from the pairing rather than the ‘meat’ of the dish. They can be light dishes or rich and full of flavour, so there is no one wine to go with vegetarian or vegan dishes. Here is a vegetarian food and wine pairing cheat sheet to help you get close to a decision when pairing wine with your veggie dish (go off of what is the focal flavour point of the dish):

  • Green vegetables: Sparkling or light whites
  • Root vegetables: Full-bodied whites, rose or light reds.
  • Alliums (garlic, onion, shallots): These pair with almost everything!
  • Nightshades (tomatoes, bell peppers): Aromatic whites, rose, medium- and full-bodied reds.
  • Beans and pulses: Sparkling wines, medium reds
  • Mushrooms: Full-bodied whites, medium- and full-bodied reds
  • Nuts: Aromatic whites, rose or dessert wines
  • Fresh herbs: Sparkling whites, light- and full-bodied whites, rose, light reds.

wine pairings for fine dining

H2-Dining at Lake Country House

Nestled in the stunning Welsh countryside, you'll discover the Lake Country House Hotel and Spa. It holds a prime spot equidistant from two of the UK's most captivating national parks: the enchanting Brecon Beacons and the majestic Snowdonia. Whether you aim to unwind in one of the finest luxury hotels near Brecon Beacons after a day of exploring the splendid Welsh landscape or to seek solace from your everyday schedule through a rejuvenating spa getaway, our country house hotel stands as the ideal selection.

At Lake Country House we offer a decedent fine dining experience in wales for both guests and visitors alike. Our menus are created seasonally, enabling our kitchen team to take full advantage of the very best seasonal treats from nature and our local suppliers and with over 300 wines available to our diners you can be sure there is a perfect pairing for your meal.