Wine and Food Pairing 101

Discovering wine pairings that work for you is easy. Typically, it is simply a task of drinking wine while eating food. And sometimes, that is all we need. 

At Ram’s Gate Winery, we have the luxury of wine tasting alongside our Executive Chef, Stacey Combs, providing wine pairing expertise we are always excited to learn, which is also available during our wine and food pairing culinary experience.

No matter how you make it happen, great wine and food pairing techniques beautifully balance the characteristics of a wine and the components of a dish.

While this may seem complex at first blush, the basics are a little simpler to grasp. 

Let’s dive in. 

The Very First Wine Pairing Tips to Know

White wines pair best with light-intensity meats, including fish or chicken. 

Red wines pair best with boldly flavored meats, like a nicely seared steak or a patiently roasted lamb. 

The fattier the meat, like a prime rib, the more bitter the wine should be to balance the meal. 

Whatever you prepare, your wine pairing should always be:

  • More acidic than the food
  • Sweeter than the food
  • The same flavor intensity as the food

When in doubt, have an at-home wine tasting to acknowledge the acidity and sweetness of the wines you are going to serve during a dinner party. This will allow you to plan and present a spectacular wine pairing experience for your guests. 

Congruent Wine Pairings vs. Contrasting Wine Pairings

The next thing to know about wine pairings is that there is a contrasting wine pairing, which creates balance by contrasting tastes and flavors, and a congruent wine pairing, which creates balance by amplifying shared flavor compounds.

Think about how the contrast of a nice Rosé and a crunchy, leafy green salad, and how they exceptionally complement each other. 

Then, comparatively, how a beautiful, rich red wine, like our Cabernet Sauvignon, will create a congruent wine pairing, by adding the aforementioned bitterness the traditionally fatty prime rib lacks. 

Now you are getting the idea. 

Wine and Food Pairing 101

Wine tasting and wine pairing can be made easy with a few quick notes that bring the relativity of both together, so you do not have to think too hard about how food and wine go together. 

Here is a quick guide:

    • Pinot Noir pairs with earthy flavors, like mushrooms and truffles 
    • Chardonnay pairs with fatty fish, shellfish, and rich sauces 
    • Champagne and sparkling wines pair with anything salty 
    • Sauvignon Blanc pairs with tart and tangy foods
    • Malbec pairs with sweeter foods, like barbecue sauces
    • Syrah pairs with spicy foods 
    • Zinfandel pairs with terrines, pates, and mousses

Our experienced team of wine professionals believe that wine pairings make for extraordinary meals, but it is also important to enjoy the wine you are pairing. We have great wine pairing resources in our signature collections but want you to drink what you love, so you can really enjoy the meal you have prepared or ordered. 

Learn more about our exciting wine collections in person, through our open-air wine tasting experience, or one of our informative virtual experiences. If you already know what types of wine you love, join our wine club or order online for delivery or curbside pickup today.