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Picking your food and wine pairing off a wine list

How does the thought of pairing food and wine in a restaurant make you feel? Does it confuse? Excite? Or make you nervous?

Food and wine pairings can be very intimidating to some, so when out at a restaurant and a little unsure, it's always best to either ask the Sommelier, server, or make your best possible choice.

Most of the time your mind and body know the wine you want to have, so listen to yourself and make your own educated judgement. You will be surprised just how great your decision may be.

The old rule of thumb is to pair white wine with chicken, pork, some pasta, and seafood right? Same thing goes for red wine and red meats and sauces. Now that so many new wines have come into the market, and wine bars, restaurants, and pairing menu's are popping up like crazy, we don't really have to follow that rule so much anymore.

Sometimes you will find the "daring pairings" to be very palate pleasing. Wine lists can seem overwhelming sometimes to new and experienced wine lovers. Pages and pages of wines you may never have heard of, seen, or tasted. How do you choose? What do you choose? How do you know what will go with what? Here is how to navigate a wine list and pick your pleasant or perfect pairing!

First, think about what you MAY want to eat: You don't have to fully commit to your initial thought, but think about what you may want to have. If you want something light, a soup, something to share, sides, etc.

Second, think about what wine you MAY be in the mood for: Sometimes you can be dining in a restaurant and crave red meat, but may also want a white wine, so this step is important. Always go to the by the glass section if you are unsure or want to try multiple wines with multiple courses.

This will help you pair and also try a few different things if you do not want to commit to a bottle. If you and your dining partner want the same wine however for the first course, half bottles are also a good idea.

Third, don't think so much about a perfect pairing: You will get to the perfect pairing in restaurants status sooner or later, so its important to focus on eating what you like and drinking what you love. You do not want to scare yourself out of what could be a great decision or learning experience.

If you really want a Flank Steak with a side of Mashed Potatoes and Vegetables, and also a white wine, a White Burgundy (Chardonnay) could go beautifully with that kind of dish. If you want Butternut Squash Ravioli with a spicy, creamy, or tangy sauce, but also really want a red wine, try going for an fruit forward Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, or even a Malbec. The fruit driven notes will really compliment the dish with out overpowering too much and confusing your palate.

Fourth, accept your decision and run with it: It's always best to make peace with your decision and figure out what you like, love, and would pair next time. Pairings are very versatile in that its your choice, your palates preference, and your pairing. If you like your choice and it didn't alter the taste of your food for the worse, then it was the proper pairing for you.

Remember, every palate is different: You may love a pairing that someone else doesn't like at all. Everyones taste is different and we all experience different flavors, aromas, and textures. It's always good to eat what you like and drink what you love...this should lead you to a successful pairing!