An Expert Guide To Matching Food & Wine

by Rosie McKay

A chef and a winemaker share expert tips on how to match wine with food and the best pairings for seafood, chicken, spicy food and meat...

Winter generally sees most of us retreating indoors, throwing dinner parties for friends in the warmth of our own homes rather than eating out. And if you ask me, there's nothing better than enjoying good food with a damn fine drop of wine.

Ensuring that the wine complements the flavours of the meal is key to creating a memorable entertaining experience. Most of us don't have a live-in sommelier on hand, so I asked Alex Finnie, Chief Winemaker, James Estate Wines and Melissa Dixon, Group Executive Chef, Bistro on Hermitage for their top tips on how to match wine with food for your next dinner party - plus get the recipes and wine suggestions for three dishes you can try at home HERE.

See Need Want Food How To Match Wine With Food Spatchcock 1
Key Points To Remember

·      The first step in matching food and wine is to understand what it is that you are tasting. When matching the wine to the food, it is important to first establish what the key flavours of the dish are (bitter, sweet, acidic, earthy etc). The wine you select should compliment these flavours. 

·      Try to keep the food you are serving reasonably simple. The more complexity in the flavour of the food the harder the food match is going to be. 

·      Build on your knowledge of wine. Once you have a grasp on what varietals generally display certain characteristics you can then go deeper in your understanding of flavour by region and vintage.

5 Basic Wine Matches To Get You Started

1.     Delicate seafood such as shell fish – Citrus notes and good acidity in a Semillon work great. 

Get the recipe for Freshly Shucked Sydney Oysterswith Lemongrass, Chilli and Shallot Dressing HERE

See Need Want Food How To Match Wine With Food Shellfish

2.     Creamy chicken & seafood dishes – Look to Chardonnay, a little more complexity and structure match well. However, save your heavily oaked Chardonnay to pair with hard cheeses.    

Get the recipe for Salt and Pepper Balmain Bugs with Coriander, Macadamia and Ginger Salad HERE

See Need Want Food How To Match Wine With Food Seafood

3.     Earthy flavours such as mushroom dishes – look towards a light and earthy wine such as Pinot or Gamay Noir. 

4.     Spicy Food – Shiraz with a spicy dish. A spicy wine with spicy food is a complement in both directions.  

5.     Juicy Meat dishes and Game – Look towards a big wine, Cabernet Sauvignon or Petit Verdot work great. 

Get the recipe for Pomegranate Glazed BBQ Spatchcock, with Mint, Pistachio and Bulgur Salad HERE

See Need Want Food How To Match Wine With Food Spatchcock
And Remember...

Always keep experimenting and learning. It does not always have to be red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat. If you do try a match and they do not complement each other you will have a better understanding of what will work next time. 


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