When pairing food and wine, the goal is synergy and balance. The wine shouldn't overpower the food, nor should the food overpower the wine. Think of wine as if it were a condiment — it should compliment the food.

Wine drunk by itself tastes different than wine with food, because wine acts on food similar to the way a spice does. Acids, tannins and sugars in the wine interact with the food to provide different taste sensations.

Wine can enhance the flavor of food. A good match will bring out the nuances and enhance the flavors and unique characteristics of both the food and the wine.


Generally, it is best to pick a wine that balances the natural flavors of the food. Spicy, flavorful food should be paired with a spicy, flavorful wine. Likewise, a mild, neutral dish should be paired with a mild, neutral wine.

Most beef dishes would be considered a fatty, flavorful dish, so they pair well with charismatic red wines like big Cabs and Zinfandels. Rich, creamy pasta sauce would be better suited to match wih a rich Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc.


Acidic dishes like pasta with tomato sauce pair well with a wine that is also high in acidity, like a Chianti. However, this same Chianti will overpower a mild seafood dish or a rich creamy pasta sauce. So, try to match the acidity level of the wine to the acidity in your food. For fish with an acidic lemon sauce, try pairing with a similarly acidic Sauvignon Blanc.


Wines contain natural tannins which have an astringent flavor. This flavor makes your mouth pucker when you drink it, and the tannins cleanse your palate of the fats from your food. "Cleansing your palate" leaves your sense of taste clear and ready to fully enjoy the next bite. This property of tannins as a palate cleanser is especially useful in meat and steak dishes, which are higher in fat.

For white wines, acidity achieves the same affect as tannins in red wine. You may want to pair an acidic white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc with a fatty dish. Acidity will also take away from salt, so the palate cleansing nature of these wines works especially well with a salty dish.

Keep in mind, however, that these acidic wine do not pair well with anything creamy, like alfredo sauce for example. This makes sense if you think about it; you wouldn't want to mix an acid like a lime with your milk would you?