Food and Wine Pairing Charts

Karen Frazier
Red wine with food

Pairing food and wine is one of life's great pleasures. The perfect combination of food and wine approaches the sublime, elevating an ordinary meal to an extraordinary one. Knowing some basics about how to pair foods to wines can help enhance your enjoyment of both.

Easy Food and Wine Pairing Charts

The following food wine pairing charts are by no means comprehensive, there are just so many great pairings! Think of them more as a jumping off point to help you plan your wine and food menu for your next get together.

cheese and red wine

Red Wine Food Pairings

Consider the following match ups for red wines.

Wine Appetizers Main Course Dessert
Cabernet Sauvignon/Left Bank Bordeaux/Meritage Carpaccio, pungent (stinky) cheeses Beef, duck, lamb, lentils, hearty stews, beef Wellington Dark and bittersweet chocolate
Right Bank Bordeaux/Merlot Antipasto, aged cheeses Veal, sausage, salmon, tuna, eggplant, game meats Raspberry, cherry or other dark berry desserts
Zinfandel/Primitivo Seared Ahi tuna, spicy chicken or beef satay Barbeque, tomato sauce, spicy sausage, duck, beef, pizza Dark berry desserts, carrot cake
Pinot Noir/Burgundy Creamy cheeses, pâté, roasted vegetables Veal, chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef, lamb Berry tart, flourless chocolate cake, crème brûlée, figs
Syrah/Rhône wine Bruschetta, stuffed mushrooms, tapenade Ham, lamb, pasta with tomato sauce, pizza, barbeque Cherry pie, chocolate mousse
Grenache/Châteauneuf-du-Pape/Priorat Charcuterie, smoked cheese Braised meats, dark meat poultry, lamb, osso bucco, duck, Thanksgiving dinner, game meats, boeuf bourguignon Plum tart, dried cherries
Tempranillo/Rijoa/Ribera del Duero Smoked provolone, olives, tapenade Mexican food, pork ribs, grilled meat, burgers, cajun food, chili Spiced chocolate
Sangiovese/Chianti/Brunello Hard cheeses, cured meats, bruschetta Lasagna, spaghetti, red sauce, roasted meat Not a great wine for desserts
Nebbiolo/Barolo/Barbaresco Salted nuts, salty cheeses, olives Fatty meats such as rib roast, pork roast, duck, pork chops, mushroom risotto, game meats Salted caramel, chocolate pot de crème
Malbec Bleu cheese, stuffed mushrooms Burgers, steak chimichurri, meats with herbs, grilled meat, lamb, roasted vegetables, beef fajitas Dark chocolate, chocolate covered cherries

Pairing Food With White Wine

Here are some pairing suggestions for white wines.

Wine/Varietal Appetizers Main Course Dessert
Chardonnay/White Burgundy/Chablis Scallops, crudités, hummus, mild cheeses Chicken, cream based sauces, pork, and seafood Cheesecake, poached light fruit
Sauvignon Blanc/Fumé Blanc Oysters, crab cakes, wild mushroom and goat cheese bruschetta Sea bass, lobster, langoustines, chicken, shrimp Sorbet, key lime pie, lemon meringue pie
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris Ceviche, ahi tuna tartare, antipasto Risotto, grilled chicken, lobster, white sauces, crab Petit fours, apple tart
Riesling Calamari, steamed clams, creamy chesses Roasted chicken, grilled pork, baked ham Light cakes, cream based pie, baked apples, apple crisp
Gewürztraminer Chilled shrimp, artichokes Thai food, pork tenderloin, chicken, turkey, shellfish, hot wings Pineapple upside down cake
Torrontés Ceviche, goat cheese, charcuterie, mango salsa Spicy foods, paella, chorizo, Thai food, coconut shrimp Baklava, sweet potato pie
Albariño Shrimp cocktail, crab cocktail Seafood of all types, ph'o, sushi, jerk chicken Not really great with desserts
Viognier Chilled shellfish, oysters on the half shell Halibut, shrimp, lobster, scallops, crab, grilled chicken, Asian food Pecan pie
Chenin Blanc Salad, clam chowder, popcorn Fettuccine Alfredo, cream sauce, veal, trout, white meat poultry Baked apples, apple pie
Muscat/Moscato Spicy sausage, hard cheeses, almonds, pâté Thai food, Asian fare, ph'o, ramen Poached pears, vanilla ice cream, cheesecake
Sémillon Ceviche, bleu cheese, foie gras, pâté Asian food, spicy chicken, spicy fish (such as halibut with mango salsa) Crème brûlée

Rosé and Sparkling

Try the following pairings for rosé and sparkling wines.

Wine/Varietal Appetizers Main Course Dessert
Rosé Salad, tuna tartare, ceviche, gazpacho Barbecue, duck, grilled fish or poultry, picnic foods Chocolate mousse, cheesecake with strawberry topping
Champagne/Cava/Sparkling wine/Prosecco Charcuterie, nuts, hard or soft cheeses Lobster, crab, creamy or buttery sauces, white fish, pasta with cream sauces, pesto Berries and mascarpone cheese
Lambrusco Sliders, prosciutto Pulled pork, pizza, lasagna, tuna, sardines Nectarines

Sweet and Fortified

Sweet wines and fortified wines can pair well with both sweet and savory foods.

Wine/Varietal Appetizers Main Course Dessert
Sauternes/Barsac Foie gras, blue cheese Lobster with butter sauce, roasted duck Crème brûlée, cheesecake
Late harvest/ice wine Stinky or sharp cheese, pâté, spicy sausage Spicy foods Poached pears, honey cake
Tawny Port Gorgonzola and walnuts, baked brie Fatty beef (use in sauces) Pumpkin pie, chocolate tart, molten lava cake, caramel cheesecake
Ruby Port Cheese board and charcuterie, pâté, goat cheese Game meats such as venison, duck Poached pears
Sherry Tapas, tapenade Ham, chorizo, lamb, beef stew, mushroom stew Cheesecake, ice cream, flan
Vermouth Figs and goat cheese Chicken stir-fry, Asian foods, spicy foods, jambalaya, chili Dark chocolate
Madeira Goat cheese, almonds Grilled meats, tuna, sushi, swordfish, pork, poultry Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate cake
Tokaji Foie gras, pâté, Stilton cheese Spicy Asian food, roast pork Pecan pie, pumpkin pie, baked apple

Food and Wine Pairing Basics

There are some basic rules to successfully matching food and wine. The first and most important rule is this: always drink what you love. Another tip suggests you do not allow the wine to overwhelm the flavors of the food nor do you allow the food to take over the subtle flavor nuances of the wine.

Seafood pasta with wine

Match Weights

This sounds complicated, but it's really very simple. When pairing up food and wine, start by matching the weight of the wine to the weight of the food. Heavier wines like Cabernet and Bordeaux should be paired with heavier (heartier) dishes. Light wines like Pinot Grigio and Riesling should be matched with lighter fare.

Match Textures

Sweet and spicy dishes accentuate the acidity, astringency and tannic qualities, often referred to as texture of any given wine. Foods high in acids or salt content tend to dull the textures of wine, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. What you're looking for when pairing food and wine is a delicate balance between the flavors of the wine and the flavors of the food.

When matching textures of food with wine, think about what you want the wine to do to the food and vice versa. For example, if you want to bring out the tannins in a Cabernet Sauvignon, serve it with a sweeter or spicier dish. If you think the tannins in the Cab you plan on serving are too "big," cut them down a bit by serving it with a dish that is a bit salty and bitter or fatty.

Drink the Wine You Love

The old fashioned rule of red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat is so restrictive and there is really no reason to follow it. The whole idea of pairing wine with food is for the two to complement one another. If you want to drink your bottle of Caymus with a grilled burger, then do it. Try a bottle of Fish Eye Chard with Pad Thai. Great wine always complements great food, so don't be afraid to throw all the guidelines out the window and experiment with what wine and food you think pair well together. As always, you will never go wrong by drinking the wine you love. If you love it, it's more than likely that your guests will love it as well.

Food and Wine Pairing Charts