Food & Drink

A Guide to Pairing Wine and Food

by Dani Howell May 25, 2019
ReadA Guide to Pairing Wine and Food Photo by Kym Ellis

Choosing the right bottle of wine to pair with your meal (or the perfect food for that bottle of wine you’ve been waiting to open) can feel like a colossal challenge. You not only want one to complement the other, but you want both to shine in their own right. Many times, I’ve found myself in the wine aisle, looking at the seemingly countless bottles staring back at me, unsure of what exactly I should leave with. This situation has occurred more times than I care to admit.

I knew there had to be some general guidelines to make the right wine choice the next time I have people over to my apartment, so I decided to talk with a wine expert: Ashley Hernandez, a sommelier at Cincinnati’s 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab. She gave me the lowdown on pairings you can count on (and some specific craft wine suggestions, too). We discussed some popular wine styles and the best types of food to enjoy them with.

As a note: Some of the suggested wines may only be available in certain regions. To find a comparable, well-crafted wine, visit your local boutique or mom-and-pop wine shop.

Riesling

Ashley: “Riesling is quite a versatile grape to drink. Styles can range from really sweet to bone dry and can age for years. The best expressions I have had have come from its homeland Germany and Alsace, FR: producers like Kruger Rumpf, Selbach, von Winning from Germany and Kuentz-Bas from Alsace, FR.

Rieslings pair well with many food styles given their naturally high acid profiles. Indian food with a good amount of spice and riesling is one of my personal go-tos. The natural aromatics of the riesling coupled with the acid and often slight residual sugar make a perfect pair for spicy aromatic Indian dishes.”

Chardonnay

“Chardonnay, like riesling, has quite a few expressions. It can be leaner and minerally or richer and rounder with buttery notes. Producers I really like are Lioco from California, Jean-Marc Brocard from Chablis, and Domaine Daniel et Julien Barraud from Burgundy.

Pairings can range from fresh seafood with leaner styles to buttery, creamy sauced dishes. I’d recommend a spring vegetable linguine with a lemon cream sauce.”

Merlot

“A couple of producers of merlot I’ve enjoyed lately are Château Tire Pé and Château la Rame (this is a merlot-dominated blend with cabernet sauvignon which is typical for Bordeaux).

I’d pair this wine with a hearty tomato and herb sauced ratatouille.”

Cabernet Sauvignon

Château Fontanès is a producer that I recommend for this grape.

Enjoy this bottle with a bowl of vegetarian or regular chili. The jalapeños and spices of the dish will stand up well to and complement what’s in the glass.”

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