The world of wine is vast, with far more options than merely red and white. That means the pairing possibilities for wine and food are nearly endless. Where do you begin when there are so many varietals and tasting notes to navigate? With food and wine pairing recipes and a few tips on hand, you’ll create the perfect complement to any meal, snack or dessert you can think of.
Pairing wine and food with different recipes lets you create a restaurant-quality meal and experience at home. Don’t open a bottle at random — use this guide to food and wine pairing recipes and put together something delicious.
Tips for Trying Food and Wine Pairing Recipes
Whether you want to make chicken recipes paired with red wine or pour something to go with your dessert, you have many options. Before you create a wine pairing menu with these recipes, it helps to understand the thought that goes into each match. When you complement your appetizer, meal or dessert with a glass of wine, you should bring out the best of everything.
Combining the right food recipes and wine pairings elevates everything from your cooking to the bottle of wine, so carefully consider what you do. Instead of pouring whatever wine you have at home with your next meal, follow these tips for trying food with wine pairing recipes.
Understand the Flavors and Elements
When creating the best food and wine pairing recipes, it helps to understand why some wines pair well with specific foods and some don’t. It’s mostly about the wine’s and food’s flavors and whether they clash with each other, contrast nicely or create an ideal complement. For wine, those flavors can include the following.
- Acid: Wine’s acidity can range from tart to bitter. Acidity can either create a bright wine or one that causes your mouth to water.
- Fruit: As part of the wine-making process, fruit often comes through in the final flavor notes. While grapes are the common ingredient, you can find wines that include other fruity notes.
- Earthy: Earthy wines are the opposite of fruity wines. Their tasting notes and aromas are more reminiscent of what you’d associate with the earth, and they might be dry.
- Tannins: As an astringent, tannins in wine create the dryness you feel in your mouth when you take a sip. Dry wines have higher tannin concentrations.
- Sweet: Sweet wines are the opposite of dry wines. They have a self-explanatory, more sugary taste. That sweetness can come from fruit or added sugar during the wine-making process.
- Alcohol: The alcohol taste in wine will likely be more subtle than what you’d find in spirits. But when it’s present, it can moderately elevate sweetness.
If you’re a wine connoisseur, you’re familiar with those and other notes and tastes, but even casual sippers can learn to notice them. Anyone will be more familiar with the flavors we find in food. These are the qualities you have to compare to your wine when you’re getting ideas for food and wine pairing recipes. Your food may combine some of these qualities, so consider every facet of your recipe when choosing the right wine. Possible food flavors include the following.
- Fat: Meat, dairy and oils contain fat elements. Wine doesn’t have that same element, so you’ll have to cut the fat with tannins, contrast it with acid or complement the richness with alcohol.
- Salt: Most savory foods have a salt element, which, again, you won’t find in wine. It can be tricky to find wine complements with salty food, but sparkling varieties are a safe bet.
- Acid: Acid appears in wine and food, with ingredients like citrus fruit, vinegar or bitter greens. Wine’s acidity should be the same or greater than the food you serve.
- Sweet: In food, sweetness can come from sugar, fruits, chocolate and other ingredients. Again, wine should be sweeter than your dessert or appetizer.
Recognize Congruent and Contrasting Wine and Food Pairings
To create harmonious matches for your wine and your food, you should try to create either a congruent or a contrasting pairing. Which one you end up with will depend on what you pair. There are two possibilities.
- Contrasting pairings: Combining opposite flavors creates a contrasting pairing. When your wine and food have opposite tastes — think salty and sweet or acidic and fatty — you create balance. White wines, along with sparkling and rosé, often make contrasting pairings.
- Congruent pairings: Amplify the tastes of wine and food when you create a harmonious pairing. These use shared flavor compounds, like savory and earthy or sweet and fruity. Red wines often combine with recipes to make a congruent pairing.
With those possibilities in mind, you should ultimately avoid matching spicy, bitter and acidic with each other. Other than that, salt, fat and sweet play well with each other and different flavors.
Remember the Texture
If you do not have much wine experience, you may not know that different varieties have various textures. Wine connoisseurs describe the texture in terms of weight and viscosity, known as “body.” Vineyards then categorize their wines in three ways.
- Full-bodied: You may have heard this term before when purchasing wine. A full-bodied wine is thicker. When you swirl your glass, it coats the sides. That creates a richer mouthfeel and lets you enjoy more complex flavors.
- Light-bodied: Wines in this category have a viscosity that’s more like water. That texture results in delicate flavors and finishes, since the wine won’t linger on your palate.
- Medium-bodied: These wines fall somewhere between full- and light-bodied. Their concentration isn’t as high as full-bodied wines, but you may notice more complexities than you would in a light wine.
Foods have many textures, often differing ones in a single dish. Ultimately, you should consider heavy versus light foods. A steak dinner will fall into the heavy category, while many appetizers, chicken and fish dishes are medium or light. The general rule is to pair light with light, full with heavy and medium with medium. A full-bodied wine could distract too much from a light dish’s flavor and texture, and a heavy dish will overshadow a light-bodied wine.
Appetizer and Wine Pairing Recipes
When you put wine pairing and appetizer recipes together, you create delicious starters and snacks. Impress visitors or treat yourself to an indulgent snack with food and wine pairing appetizer recipes. Complement anything from dry wines to full-bodied varieties with the right starter, and you’re sure to have a hit on your hands. For appetizer recipes and wine pairings, try the suggestions below.
Salty Snacks With Sparkling Wine
With a bubbly texture, minerality and acidity, sparkling wine is an ideal complement for salty snacks. Whether you want to indulge after a long day or need something to serve guests, you can’t go wrong with appetizer recipes with wine pairings, especially when you pour something sparkling. For appetizer and wine pairing recipes on the salty side, head to the kitchen and make recipes like these.
- Homemade potato chips: Wow yourself or guests with homemade chips you didn’t pour from a bag. Thinly cutting the potatoes will be easier with a mandoline slicer, but if your knife skills are up to par, wash, optionally peel and slice one medium potato per two servings. Soak the slices in a large bowl of cold water as you go, then drain, rinse and pat dry. Heat a quart of frying oil to 365 degrees Fahrenheit and fry in small batches until the slices are golden brown. Season with salt.
- Homemade fries: For a more substantial snack to pair with sparkling wine, turn potatoes into homemade fries. Wash and cut your potatoes into thin, evenly sized strips, and soak the slices in cool water for half an hour. Drain, rinse and pat the slices dry, then heat a quart of oil in a large pot to 275 degrees. Fry the potatoes for five minutes, remove and drain them on paper towels. Heat the oil to 350 and fry the potatoes again for five minutes, seasoning with salt.
- Homemade soft pretzels: If you have time for a more involved recipe, make mouthwatering soft pretzels. While this recipe is a bit more complicated than others, it’s sure to pair well with sparkling wine. It starts with a yeasted dough left to rise for about an hour. As the dough rises, bring 10 cups of water and two-thirds of a cup of baking soda to a boil. You’ll dunk your shaped pretzel dough for 30 seconds, remove, then brush with egg yolk and sprinkle on pretzel salt before baking at 450 degrees.
Beef and Lamb Appetizers With Cabernet Sauvignon
Do you have a variety of this red wine on hand for pairing with appetizer recipes? As a full-bodied wine, cabernet sauvignon pairs perfectly with fat-marbled red meat. The resulting combination feels decadent, ideal for a romantic evening in or impressing your guests. Pour a glass of your favorite cabernet sauvignon and create appetizer recipes with wine pairings like these.
- Beef sliders: Sometimes, the perfect appetizer recipes to pair with red wine are miniature versions of main dishes. Make your slider patties equal sizes by lining a muffin tray with paper cupcake liners, sprinkling the cups with salt and pepper. Add a ball of hamburger meat to each cup, season the tops and place another liner on top. Press down to make patties, remove the paper liners and cook in a nonstick skillet over medium-high for about three minutes on each side. Serve on slider buns with your favorite toppings.
- Baby lamb chops: For a high-class appetizer, serve baby lamb chops with a fresh, herbal green sauce. Salt and cook the lamb chops to medium-rare over high heat, about 10 minutes. Freshen up the meat with a sauce including parsley, mint, olive oil, toasted almonds and lemon juice. Combine the ingredients in a food processor, adding a few anchovies if you like for a salty contrast. All these flavors will balance well with cabernet sauvignon’s richness.
- Steak bites: Break out toothpicks for this steak appetizer recipe. Cut a sirloin steak into cubes, season with salt and pepper and heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Cook the steak cubes for about four minutes, stirring occasionally to brown all the sides. Add butter to melt in the pan with the meat and some minced garlic cloves, depending on how strong you want the flavor to be. Coat the meat in the garlic butter sauce, then serve topped with parsley for a simple, yet delicious, appetizer.
Light Appetizers With Chardonnay
For a popular dry white wine that complements appetizers well, reach for a chardonnay. This wine often features unique flavors, so you’ll want to serve it with meals that don’t overpower them. While chardonnay can pair with light or heavy meals, you may wish to keep things light for your appetizer with these recipes.
- Chicken quesadillas: Are you searching for simple food and wine pairing appetizer recipes? Chicken quesadillas make many servings and are light enough to go with a glass of chardonnay, so add this to your chicken recipes that pair with white wine. Fully cook chicken breast with your preferred seasoning — like a fajita spice mix — then dice or shred it up. Layer shredded cheese of your preference — try cheddar and Monterey Jack — and the chicken onto your favorite tortillas. Include sautéed peppers and onions if you like for more flavor.
- Grilled shrimp: Chardonnay pairs well with seafood and shellfish, and marinated grilled shrimp makes a delicious appetizer. Combine olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper for a simple marinade to start this white wine and food pairing recipe. Add tomato paste and a few dashes of hot pepper sauce for more flavor if you want, and marinate the shrimp in the fridge for two hours. Skewer the shrimp, discard the marinade and grill on medium-low heat for about five minutes per side.
- Smoked salmon crostini: Impress guests when you add these appetizers paired with wine to your recipes. Start your smoked salmon crostini by slicing a baguette diagonally into quarter-inch-thick slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet and brush with melted butter or oil, then toast in a 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Top the toast with a blend of cream cheese, Greek yogurt, dill and lemon juice and smoked salmon slices. Garnish with a small sprig of dill for an impressive bite-sized appetizer to serve with chardonnay.
Dips With Sauvignon Blanc
Enhance your appetizer wine pairings with recipes that are simple to throw together. Dips and salsas feature fresh flavors that go well with the light and often fruity notes of sauvignon blanc. Perfect for appetizers that feed a group or enjoying while relaxing with a movie, these easy dip recipes are a must-try with this white wine.
- Tomato salsa: For a classic match with store-bought or homemade tortilla chips, make DIY tomato salsa. Take advantage of sauvignon blanc’s unique ability to pair with raw tomatoes and chop some up, mixing them with finely diced onions and minced serrano chiles. Season with salt, pepper and chopped cilantro, and add some zip with a squeeze of lime juice. Dip your favorite tortilla chips, and don’t forget a glass of sauvignon blanc.
- Guacamole: A simple guacamole is sure to stand out among your white wine food pairing recipes. Pit, peel and mash avocados with fresh lemon or lime juice. Stir in minced green onion, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. Again, you can serve this dip with homemade or store-bought tortilla chips, or try it with veggies like celery sticks or bell pepper strips. Whatever you choose, the bright, fresh flavors will balance well with dry sauvignon blanc varieties.
- Fruit salsa: Make sweet appetizers with these wine pairing recipes. Wash, peel and dice a mix of fruits like mango, pineapple, kiwi and honeydew as the base of your fruit salsa. Kick up the heat and flavor with chopped jalapeño, sweet red pepper and red onion. Season with salt, white pepper and minced cilantro, then gently toss everything together with apple cider vinegar and lime juice for an acidic tang. Serve with plain or cinnamon tortilla chips and a glass of your favorite sauvignon blanc.
Dinner and Wine Pairing Recipes
When it’s time for your evening meal, you’ll want to pull out the best wine pairing dinner menu recipes. From savory, filling meals to lighter, refreshing dishes to end your day, plenty of dinner recipes make the ideal accompaniment to various wines. Pick your favorite varietal to design your meal around, or choose your favorite dinner to decide what wine to get. Try the dinner and wine pairing recipes below for your next meal.
Grilled Meats With Syrah
As a heavier red wine, syrah, also called shiraz, goes well with hearty foods. That opens up a world of possibilities for wine pairing dinner recipes that are filling after a long day. Avoid pairing this dry wine with lighter meals, like seafood, or sour flavors. Instead, opt for flavorful grilled dishes that complement the tannins you’ll find in these varieties. Consider these dinner recipes paired with red wine.
- Spareribs: Syrah and pork make an excellent pairing, especially when your dinner is a flavorful rack of spareribs. Use your favorite sparerib recipe, or try seasoning pork ribs with a dry rub of brown sugar, fajita seasoning and sweet paprika. Baste the ribs as you grill them with a mix of garlic, honey, mustard and Worcestershire sauce for a meal that combines sweet and tangy.
- Barbecue chicken: If you’re searching for delicious chicken and wine pairing recipes, turn to the grill.For a slight twist on barbecue chicken, mix rice vinegar and crushed garlic with your favorite barbecue sauce. Enhance the flavor with a dry rub of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika and onion powder. Grill halved chicken on a medium-high grill for about four minutes skin-side down, then flip and grill for about 35 minutes, basting with barbecue sauce. The rice vinegar’s slight tang suits syrah’s medium acidity and high tannin flavors.
- Grilled steak: Nothing creates a delicious filling dinner quite like grilled steak. And when you pair your favorite cut of beef with a glass of syrah, you’ll have a dinner wine pairing at home that feels like something you’d find at a high-end steakhouse. Whether you season your grilled steak with a mix of salt, peppercorns, dried garlic and onion or let the meat’s flavor stand out, you’re sure to enjoy whatever you grill.
Meat With Merlot
For more meat dinner recipes paired with red wine, open a bottle of the ever-popular merlot. This wine’s earthy, fruity notes and smooth finish make it an enjoyable addition to a meat main dish. While syrah complements grilled meat’s smoky flavors, merlot goes nicely with carefully developed, savory tastes. Enjoy your preferred merlot with dishes like these.
- Braised pork: Braised pork is tender, flavorful and rich — the perfect complement to a glass of merlot. Sear a pork shoulder or roast, set it to the side and sweat chopped onion, celery and carrot, all in a large Dutch oven. Add garlic, then tomato paste, deglazing with a cup of red wine, which will help the dish pair even better with your merlot. Add beef stock, cover the pot and put it into a 325-degree oven for about three hours, or until the pork is fork-tender.
- Sheet pan lamb: For delicious dinner recipes to pair with red wine that come with easy cleanup, you can’t go wrong with sheet pan dinners. Prepare a bed of produce for your boneless leg of lamb roast with potatoes, red onion and thinly sliced lemon. Combine those with roasted garlic cloves, sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and black and green olives. Flavor the lamb roast with a mix of salt, pepper, onion powder, rosemary and Dijon mustard, then rest it on top of the vegetables to roast.
- Veal chops: With a more delicate flavor than beef, veal chops still stand up to a glass of merlot. Baste yours with a rosemary butter sauce for added richness. If you don’t enjoy veal, you could always swap the meat for pork chops and still serve them alongside merlot. Or, try similar flavors in chicken recipes that pair with red wine.
Pizzas and Pastas With Zinfandel
If you want an easy dinner recipe with your wine pairings, reach for a red or white zinfandel and pizza or pasta. Red varieties provide bold and complex flavors, while white zinfandels are lighter in flavor and often lower in calories. Create the dish you’ve been craving when you make dinner from scratch. Pour a glass of your favorite zinfandel based on what recipe you try.
- Pasta Alfredo: Make a creamy Alfredo pasta dish to pair with a light zinfandel. Make an Alfredo sauce recipe by simmering a cup of heavy cream for five minutes. Whisk in a crushed clove of garlic and a cup and a half of grated Parmesan, stirring quickly to incorporate everything. Stir in fresh chopped parsley and serve the homemade sauce over your favorite pasta — fettuccine is a popular option to stand up to this luscious sauce. Add cooked chicken to create chicken recipes to pair with white wine.
- Lasagna: As a decadent pasta dish, lasagna complements a bolder zinfandel. Let the sauce and cheese blend stand out in a vegetarian dish, or try a lasagna recipe that adds lean ground beef and sweet Italian sausage. Either way, a combination of mozzarella, ricotta and grated Parmesan will complement the fruity notes in a glass of zinfandel.
- Pizza: You might not expect a glass of zinfandel to appear on pizza night, but it’s a fitting combination. Choose a bolder wine to go with the tomato flavors of sauce-heavy pizzas. If you’re a white pizza fan, enjoy a lighter zinfandel with your dinner. No matter what you select, try pizza recipes with flavorful toppings like mushrooms, Italian sausage and pepperoncini. Interested in chicken recipes to pair with red wine? Top your pizza with cooked chicken for a delicious and filling result.
Light Dinners With Dry Rosé
Open a bottle of dry rosé for dinner wine pairing recipes on the lighter side. Rosé is the perfect compromise when you want chicken recipes that pair with white wine to drink, but others prefer red. Dry rosé’s crisp flavors go well with various light dinners. Try rosé wine food pairing recipes like these for a refreshing meal to close out your day.
- Chicken salad: For a chicken recipe with a wine pairing, toss together a simple salad. Consider a chicken salad with Mediterranean flavors. Feta cheese and Kalamata olives add a salty brine that contrasts well with rosé’s slightly sweet, refreshing flavor, and the fatty flavors help cut through the rosé’s dry finish.
- Salmon: Baked salmon is light and flavorful, the perfect pairing with rosé wine. Top yours with a garlic butter sauce, and make it a more filling meal with roasted potatoes and asparagus on the side. The meal will still be light enough and include subtle fat flavors to contrast a dry rosé.
- Grilled oysters: Contrast the brine of grilled oysters with a glass of rosé. When you top your grilled shellfish with a sauce of olive oil, butter, chili flakes and a bit of lemon juice, you also help cut the wine’s dryness. To grill your oysters, you can either set large shells directly on the grates or nestle smaller ones in a pan filled with rock salt to keep them steady on the grill. That prevents them from losing their flavorful, briny juices.
Dessert and Wine Pairing Recipes
If you’re ready for another glass when dessert time rolls around, you may want a change of pace. The wine you pour for your after-meal treat will depend on what you’ve made from your wine and dessert pairing recipes. Try these dessert and wine pairing recipes for a sweet end to any day.
Chocolate With Cabernet Sauvignon
For a decadent combination, try a chocolate dessert recipe and wine pairing with cabernet sauvignon. This red wine has enough complexity and fruity notes to stand up to chocolate, which would overshadow other wines. Get baking and pour a glass with these sweet dessert wine pairing recipes.
- Chocolate chip cookies: Odds are, you already have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. And while the well-known pairing to these treats would be a cold glass of milk, try a fruity red wine like a cabernet sauvignon instead. For a classic wine and chocolate pairing, bake dark chocolate chip cookies and enjoy the chocolate’s complex, slightly bitter notes as they complement the wine.
- Chocolate cake: Whether you serve yours sliced or as a cupcake, chocolate cake plays well with the deep notes of a cabernet sauvignon. If you like a chocolatey flavor, add a teaspoon of espresso powder to your dry cake ingredients. Your cake won’t taste like coffee, but the espresso helps bring out the chocolate flavors so they can still shine alongside a stronger cabernet sauvignon.
Cheesecake With Riesling
Cheesecake is such a dense, indulgent dessert, you can break the full-body pairing rule and serve an acidic, light riesling instead. You can even play around with the toppings or fillings you use in your recipe or keep things simple. Either way, you’ll create a decadent and delicious dessert pairing with options like these.
- Plain cheesecake: Cheesecake on its own already includes contrasting flavors and textures. The rich combination of cream cheese, sour cream, eggs and sugar complements a crunchy graham cracker crust. But when you pair a decadent plain cheesecake with a glass of riesling, you add even more contrast and let the flavors and textures of the dessert and the drink stand out.
- Berry-topped cheesecake: Riesling’s light, sometimes crisp flavor and texture also go well with a berry-topped cheesecake. Make a sweet, yet tart, topping with your fruit of choice, like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or cherries.
Savory-Sweet Desserts With Sherry
Desserts aren’t just for fruit and chocolate. So when you go unique with savory-sweet desserts, make a straightforward dessert wine selection with sherry. Sherry often features notes of dried fruit and a nutty flavor that suits the complexity of savory-sweet desserts. Try these dessert recipes to pair with wine when you’re craving something different.
- Pumpkin pie: If you don’t already have a favorite pumpkin pie recipe, it’s a pretty simple dessert to put together. An unbaked pie crust serves as the base for a mix of canned pumpkin, a can of sweetened condensed milk and two eggs. Complement sherry’s nutty notes and spice the pie mixture with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, and add a dash of salt. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes, lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 40 minutes for a delicious dessert recipe wine pairing.
- Carrot cake: Sweet and spiced carrot cake makes another excellent addition to your wine pairing dessert recipes. Grated carrots, sugar and a cream cheese frosting give this cake its characteristic sweetness, while chopped pecans and cinnamon add nuttiness and spice that go well with many sherry varieties.
Vegetarian and Wine Pairing Recipes
Often, vegetarian recipes to pair with wine have similar flavors you’d find in meat dishes. Because of that, vegan- and vegetarian-friendly meals easily complement different varietals’ flavor profiles. Consider pouring a glass with these vegetarian and wine pairing recipes.
Mushrooms With Cabernet Sauvignon
Remember, cabernet sauvignon is a full-bodied wine. As such, it goes well with the rich flavors of mushrooms in vegetarian dishes. Choose rich, earthy mushrooms as the main component of a meal you want to pair with a cabernet sauvignon. For vegetarian recipes paired with red wine, incorporate these mushrooms into your ingredients list.
- Dried porcini mushrooms: Porcini mushrooms’ intense, earthy flavor works in simple dishes and pairs with a glass of cabernet sauvignon. For a vegetarian meal, try dried porcini mushrooms in a creamy pasta dish. Parmesan cheese adds a bit of salty tang and complements the fat from heavy cream. Overall, you’ll have a satisfyingly rich dish that complements this wine’s full body texture.
- Portobello mushrooms: A grilled Portobello mushroom is a simple vegetarian meal to include in your collection of red wine food pairing recipes. Add a bit of acidity with balsamic vinegar to make a harmonious pairing with this wine’s medium acidity. Grilling the mushrooms over medium-high to high heat for about 10 minutes will create a bold, charred taste that complements the wine’s richness.
Tastes of the World With Pinot Noir
Pinot noir is a highly versatile wine, making it excellent to pair with dishes that take your taste buds on a world tour. With complex notes, this wine works well with recipes that have equally bold flavors. Regardless of your favorite international fare, a glass of pinot noir will probably complement it. Try these vegetarian recipes to pair with red wine.
- Vegan enchiladas: Make vegan enchiladas filled with corn, kale, mushrooms, onions and diced butternut squash for a tangy complement to pinot noir. If you’re making a vegetarian variety, feel free to pair the veggies wrapped in corn tortillas with crema. To make a vegan version of the cream, soak a cup of cashews, drain them and add them to a food processor. Blend them with a teaspoon of white vinegar, two tablespoons of lime juice, a teaspoon of smoked paprika and a teaspoon of salt.
- Green lentil curry: A green lentil curry uses fragrant spices to pair well with the herbal notes often found in a pinot noir. Put ginger, garlic, ground coriander, cumin and turmeric together for a flavorful and fragrant curry. Adding kale, carrots and green beans to green lentils makes a filling, delicious vegetarian- or vegan-friendly meal to pair with your wine.
Order Wine Online With Marketview Liquor for Your Wine and Food Pairing Recipes
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