Compliments are meant to be enjoyed.

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Wine Manager Darrell Gibson takes the guesswork out of food pairings with his highly informative series on complementing meals with your favorite wines. Shop the store for one-on-one advice from any of our Foodies or Beer and Wine Partners, but read below for a quick and easy guide that will get you a little farther along on your Food Journey.  

Matching Power with Power

Match equivalent levels of flavor intensity in both the food and the wine. The goal is not to overpower – you don’t want to mask the flavors of good ingredients on either the plate or in the glass. The use of a sauce can also help with pairing a wine. If the sauce is rich like Hollandaise, the wine power can increase. The accompanying starch or vegetable also plays a role. A lighter wine would pair with our Lemon Scented Jasmine Rice or Green Beans Amandine, while a heavier wine brings out the flavor of Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes or Hatch Green Chile Stew.

  1. Flavor intensity of food provided by the preparation (in rough order of intensity): Poached, steamed, sautéed, stir-fried, pan-fried, deep-fried, braised, roasted, broiled, grilled, blackened.
  2. Flavor intensity of White Wine (in rough order of intensity) Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürtraminer, Chardonnay, Viognier
  3. Flavor intensity of Red Wine (in rough order of intensity) Gamay, Barbera, Pinot Noir, Dolcetto, Sangiovise, Merlot, Zinfandel, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah

Complementing and Contrasting Flavors

  1. Complementary Pairing: Echo the same flavors and textures of the food and the wine, matching intensity with intensity, richness with richness, and power with power.
  2. Contrasting Pairing:  Contrast the flavors and textures of the food with the wine, playing off tannin against fat, fruit against spice, complex against simple, while being careful to maintain equivalence in the intensity of flavors in the wine and the food.

– Off set a salty, smoked or spicy dish by pairing with a wine that has good fruit or is semi-dry.
– Cleanse the palate with acidity or bubbles (Champagne).  Great for richer or higher fat foods.
– A chilled wine can serve as a contrast to heat.  As an example, serve a chilled white wine with hot fried chicken or spicy chili.
– Contrast flavors, never intensity.