Food & Wine Pairing 101


Many of us are terrified when it comes to choosing wines for food. This isn’t surprising given that this task is presented as some sort of mysterious, even quasi magical process. Luckily, living in Spain goes a long way towards demystifying the food and wine pairing as every glass is accompanied by a small plate, it may be something as simple as potato chips or as elaborate as oxtail stew.   This repeated exposure to different food and wine combinations,  has emboldened me to make my own pairings and made me curious about what makes a good food and wine combination. Below is a brief explanation of basic food and wine pairing principles, as well as a link to a pairing chart.  

Pairing means combining certain elements in food and wine such as weight, texture-by which we mean how a wine feels in your mouth, and flavor to amplify the experience of both.  When pairing there are many different directions one can go.  For example, taking weight into account, you can pair a heavy Riojan red with a heavy dish like beef stew or a light Verdejo with a delicate white fish.   Or contrasting elements such as the fattiness of foie gras with the acidity of cava.  

It is not a matter of whether or not you can pair wine with food but how you want to pair them.  Successful pairing means being clear about those elements you want to focus on and then deciding how you want to combine them. In both food and wine those elements are acid, fat, sweet, alcohol, bitter and salt. Like tasting, your ability to pair food and wine gets better over time, keep playing and experimenting and most importantly have fun!  

This Wine Folly article provides specific guidance on how to start playing with those elements.  

And be sure to join us Friday 18 August, 20-21,30  at Slow Mex for a wine and food pairing event, Pairing Without Fear-A Mexican Food and Wine Extravaganza.  

Sign up here

Now go forth and experiment!