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How to Match Wine and Food

  • Some wines will complement different foods and flavours more than others.
  • Try to match the weight of the food to the body of the wine, match the food with the flavours of the wine.

It can often be tricky knowing what wine to serve with food. Is this white wine suitable for serving with spaghetti carbonara? No definitive list or guide details what wine must be served with a certain meal, but some wines complement foods and flavours more than others. Wineware has written this How to Match Wine and Food guide to help make wine and food pairing easier.

Important points to consider

To create a perfect partnership between your wine and food, it is essential to know the formula. It is a simple and easy formula to follow: choose wine and foods that do not overpower each other. With this in mind, you should try to:

  • Match the weight of the food to the body of the wine.
  • Match the flavours of your wine to your food.
  • High-acid wines with acidic foods.
  • Sweet wines with sweet foods.
  • Avoid serving high-tannin wines with oily/salty foods. Oily foods are generally complemented with high-acid wines.

These basic principles will help you successfully choose wine to accompany your food. Read below for a more detailed explanation of each point.

Guidelines on how to match wine and food

Match the body of your wine to the richness of your food

The body of the wine is the most important aspect when choosing your wine. Rich, heavy foods such as roast meats and red meat casseroles need a full-bodied, flavoursome wine. Generally speaking, this is usually a full-bodied red wine.

Lighter foods such as fish or white meats are best served with a delicate, refreshing wine. This can either be a light-bodied white wine or if you prefer, a low-tannin red wine.

Match the flavours of your wine to your food

Delicate wines and strong flavours do not go together. A wine’s flavour should reflect a meal’s flavour. For instance, if you have a steamed meal of chicken and vegetables, you will require a light-flavoured white wine. If you are enjoying a beef stew, you will require a strong flavoured red wine to match the intense cooking method of the meal (rich flavours and long cooking time).How to match Wine and Food

High-acid wines with acidic foods

The acidity in wine should match the acidity of the food. Typically, Italian food uses highly acidic ingredients such as tomatoes, vinegar and lemons, so an acidic Italian wine is usually served alongside the meal. It can often be difficult to find a wine to match dishes using large quantities of acidic ingredients, such as lemons and limes, as the ingredients are often found to overpower many wines.

Sweet wines with sweet foods

This formula is simple; the sweeter the food, the sweeter the wine. For instance, sweet and full-bodied Muscat-based wines are great served alongside desserts and puddings.

Avoid serving high-tannin wines with oily/salty foods.

Tannin and oily fish is a combination that can often create a metallic taste on the back of your tongue. It is rather unpleasant, and it is best to be avoided. It is suggested that low tannin reds are fine with meaty fish.

Key flavour combinations of wine and food

Fruity flavours

Fruity flavours in food are a delight to match. They work well with most fruity/floral wines, so you can easily enjoy a refreshing fruit salad and a glass of Muscat.

Spicy foods

Spicy food is generally best served alongside a wine made from juicy, ripe fruit. Highly spiced foods can work well with Sauvignon Blanc or Chilean Merlot. In some instances, a spicy wine can complement a spicy dish. For example, a spicy dish can be served alongside Gewurtztraminer. A spicy wine generally contains different flavours such as black pepper, white pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.

Smoked foods

Smoked foods need to be matched with wines that can deal with the smoked flavour.  Brut champagne is traditionally served alongside lightly smoked salmon, a delicious match. As a general rule of thumb, the stronger the smoke, the greater the oak can be. For instance, strong smoked barbecue flavours suit oaked wines such as Australian Shiraz. 


Suggested red wine and meat pairings

WineMeat dish
Amarone Steak
Bandol Lamb, rabbit, steak
Barbaresco Pork
Barolo Lamb, boar
Beaujolais Ham, pork, steak, veal,
Burgundy Beef
Cabernet Sauvignon Lamb, beef, venison, steak
Cabernet Franc Rabbit
Chianti Beef
Côtes du Rhone Veal, beef
Malbec Liver, lamb, beef
Merlot Lamb, veal, steak
Pinot Noir Lamb, beef, steak, pork, rabbit, veal
Syrah Beef, lamb, game
Zinfandel Lamb, beef, pork


Suggested white wine and meat pairings


Wine Meat
Chardonnay Pork
German Riesling Venison
Pinot Grigio Ham
Rosé Champagne Lamb
Sauvignon Blanc Pork
Vouvray Ham

We have a useful blog post on wine and cheese pairings if you need ideas for a dinner party or perhaps for a themed wine tasting party.

Tips for wine and food

  • It is worthwhile to remember that the dominant flavour of a food is in the sauce. This can often be forgotten when choosing the wine to accompany your meal.
  • The cooking method of food is always important to consider.
  • Tannin in red wine reacts with protein, so protein such as a rare steak will often soften the effects of tannin on your palate.
  • We hope these recommendations can help you make a well-informed decision when choosing your wine and food. It is important to remember that wine and food choices are a matter of individual taste. So have fun experimenting with different flavours and aromas, creating unique combinations with wines from around the world. The great joy of wine and food is they can be an individual and social experience alike. 

We are more than happy to offer advice on how best to match your wine and food, so please do not hesitate to contact us. Alternatively, let us know if we have missed any information regarding matching wine and food; we welcome all suggestions!

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