6 tips on how to match wine with food

As a catering service, our primary goal, naturally, is to skillfully prepare and serve a first class menu for you and your guests to enjoy, on the premises, using local fresh ingredients. That’s our No. 1 goal - but we have been doing this a long time and have the knowledge and expertise to help you with any number of other things related to your catering experience, including how to match your wine to your meal.

We would be the first to admit that knowing all the ins and outs of matching your wine to your food may not be high on your list of priorities, but we believe that it can and often will enhance the dining experience for you, so we are happy to be passing on these little hints as part of our catering service.

For most of us, choosing our wine will be completely a matter of personal taste, but, you may be surprised to learn that some wines do, in fact, enhance the flavour of some foods, and its just a case of having these few simple tips up your sleeve in advance.

How to match wine with food tip # 1 - personal taste is important

 Obviously if you don’t enjoy the taste of mussels you are highly unlikely to order them as your entree or head straight to the mussel platter at the next dinner party you attend.   The same will be true for your wine.   You are not going to drink what you don’t enjoy so for the most part choose a wine that you would drink on its own regardless if it matches your food.

How to match wine with food tip # 2 - body, weight and balance

The old rule about always serving fish with a light, white wine or steak with a heavier red is a good one, albeit probably a little outdated these days.  When matching your wine to your meal consider the body, weight and richness of both the food and the wine and endeavour to match them up.

A hearty, rich, beef casserole, for example, will probably overwhelm a light, delicate, low alcohol Semillon, but absolutely complement a full-bodied red such as a Shiraz or Merlot. 

On the other hand, a delicate, steamed fish with a light lemony sauce would be completely balanced by a light, fruity Riesling but totally over-powered by a heavy bodied Chardonnay.

Rule of thumb, the lower the alcohol rating (usually found on the wine label), the lighter-bodied the wine and the higher the alcohol rating, the heavier-bodied the wine. 

It’s basically all about balance.

How to match wine with food tip # 3 - acidity

High acid wines should be served with high acid foods.  Why? Because super tangy or acidic foods tend to make non-acidic wines taste a bit flat.  Therefore, serving wine with similar or higher acidity would work well.  In general white wines exhibit more acidity than red although lighter style red wines may also have high acidity.  You will be able to tell if the wine is acidic with the first mouthful as the acidity gives wine its crispness on the palate.

How to match wine with food tip # 4 - spicy foods

In our multicultural city of Perth, spicy foods are now the norm for a lot of us.  A hot, spicy Indian curry, or a fragrant, spicy Thai dish are very popular with a lot of diners.  But really spicy foods don’t always complement wines as you may have experienced. 

Milder curries or other spicy dishes can, however, be complemented quite well.  Our little hint for spicy foods is to choose low to moderate alcohol or sweet wines which will help to lessen the burn of spicy, hot foods.  Ensure the wine you choose is well chilled and, if possible avoid oaky, tannic wines as spice can exaggerate oaky flavours.

How to match wine with food tip # 5 - sweets and desserts

 Rule of thumb here is for the wine to be as sweet, or sweeter, than the dessert you are eating.  Dessert wines may not be as popular as other complementary whites but are always a good option when served with fruity tarts or pastries.  

How to match wine with food tip # 6 - love what you drink and drink what you love

The bottom line is that there are any number of wonderful, versatile wines, both red and white which will complement most meals.  Remember Hint # 1 above. 

These are just a few little tips to point you in the right direction when choosing wines to complement your meals.  The choice and selection of wines available to suit every meal and every palate is huge…. reds, whites, rose, Pinots, sweet wines, dessert wines, chardonnays, sparkling, merlots, Australian, French, German… you no doubt get the picture.

The above is just a guide, which may help you match your wines with your food - and who knows where it might lead.

Cheers! Let’s drink to that!!!