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Wine and Food Pairings - Which Wine to Serve with Dinner

Most people love to throw dinner parties for their friends and family. But,
they may avoid serving wine because they do not know exactly what to serve. Do
you serve red or white with fish? Will Merlot be okay if you are serving a
Mexican dish? Do not stress over it - there are some basic wine rules you can

The number one rule of thumb when choosing wine is "red wine with red meat,
white wine with white meat." This is not always true, but it generally works
quite well when you are unsure. One exception is chicken. The meat is white, but
a nice fruity red wine goes well with it. The same can be said for tuna or
salmon, so you do not have to always follow the rule of not serving red wine
with fish. The second rule is the rule of complements. It is okay to match sweet
seafood such as lobster with a sweet white wine. The next rule is the opposites
attract. While you usually want to match like flavors, sometimes a contrast,
such as a White Bordeaux with bluefish can be wonderful.

Outside of the basic rules, there are certain things you can look for and
certain things you can avoid depending on what you are serving. Here are some
hints as to what to serve with particular types of food.

Salads and Appetizers

You should avoid serving wine during your salad, as vinegar and wine do not
mix well. But, if you are having an appetizer, you need to consider the
ingredients in the appetizer to help you choose your wine. If you are having a
cheese tray, the type of cheese will help you determine the wine. For example,
cheddar is best with dry reds, Merlots, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinot Noir goes
best with Swiss. Camembert and brie are great with a Chardonnay. The cheese we
tend to think of as Italian such as parmigiano, romano, and reggiano go well
with Italian dry red wines like Chianti and Barlol. If you are serving something
a fried appetizer, consider serving a crisp, fruity white or red wine to help
cut the oily flavor.

Beef, Steak and Lamb

Do you remember the "red wine with red meat" rule? That one is great to use
when serving beef, steak, and lamb. Choose a dry red wine like Cabernet
Sauvignon or a burgundy like Pinot Noir. You can also consider serving an
Italian red such as Barolo or Chianti.

Fish and Seafood

To be safe, stick with a dry, crisp white wine. Sauvignon Blanc goes well
with white fish while Sancerre and Muscadet go well with oysters. If you want to
be different, try a fruity red wine (without tannins). But, use caution when
serving red, especially if you are serving white, delicate fish. Cabernets with
tannins combined with fish can leave a metallic taste in your mouth.

Poultry, Pork and Veal

For the most part, you want to follow the "white meat, white wine" rule with
these. White chardonnays and Pinot Blancs are great. If you want to serve red
with chicken, remember to choose a wine that is fruity like a Merlot or


Think back to Thanksgiving. Do
you remember how well your cranberry sauce went with the turkey? The same rule
applies here. For turkey, since it has both white and dark meat, you want
something fruity and tart such as a Beaujolais for red or a Riesling for

Spicy Foods

If you are planning on service something spicy like Thai or Indian food, a
sparkling wine works best. Avoid wines with tannins and look for something
fruity. And, make sure the wine is well chilled. Cold wine goes well with spicy


The best thing to serve with a delicious
dessert is a dessert wine. In fact, you can skip the dessert part and just serve
a dessert wine to your guests. These are sweet wines often sold in smaller
bottles as you don't drink as much dessert wine as you do regular wine. Wines
such as Sauternes, Beerenauslese, Bermet and Cammandaria will make a great end
to any evening.

The most important rule about what wine to serve is to avoid being snobby
about wine. There are no right answers, only basic rules to go by and even
those, as you have seen, can be changed. Do not be afraid to experiment with
different tastes. Chances are if you do not act like there is anything wrong
with the wine you are serving, your guests will not either.

About the Author

Jason Connors is a successful writer and wine connoisseur providing valuable tips and advice on wine cellar design, wine making, and wine basics.

A Short Bordeaux Wine Summary

Wine and Food Pairings - Which Wine to Serve with Dinner

Most people love to throw dinner parties for their friends and family. But,
they may avoid serving wine because they do not know exactly what to serv...

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