Frankly, we believe there is only one rule when it comes to wine: drink what you like, when you like, and with whatever you like. In fact, sometimes a craving for a specific wine will dictate what food you want to accompany it.
Having said all that, there are some general guidelines that you should typically follow when pairing food with wine.
Match the wine intensity with the food intensity
Light wines generally go better with more delicate foods such as salads, vegetables and fish. They also go with lemon-based sauces and poached or steamed dishes. Think Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.
Medium body wines tend to go well with fare such as poultry, pork, veal and game birds, as well as heavier fish, such as salmon, all of which are often sautéed, baked or roasted. Try Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese or, Merlot.
Red meat like steak and ribs, as well as strong or spicy foods need a heavier full body wine to stand up to them, no matter if they are grilled, barbecued or braised. Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic but also try Shiraz or Zinfandel.
Match food acidity with wine acidity
Because Italian wines tend to have high acidity, they complement many Italian foods, which can also have higher acidity. For example, Chianti with pizza is a popular combination.
Match sweet foods with even sweeter wines
Many people find that sweet foods make dry wines taste even drier – to the point of bitterness. Big fruity Cabernet Sauvignon goes well with dark chocolate, while Gewurtztraminer is a great match with cheesecake or fruit salad.
Match smoky with oaky
Try grilled fish with an oaked Chardonnay, or a Cabernet Sauvignon with barbecued meat.
If you experiment a little, you will undoubtedly come up with some interesting discoveries, especially when it comes to the many different varieties of cheeses. For instance, try pairing wines and cheeses from the same country or region of origin.
To learn more about paring the right wine with the right food, check out our guide, What Wines When. For just $6.95 you can have access to the top 200 wines sold at the LCBO - all for under $20!