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How to pick a Wine for Dinner 101

It is all very well to know what you like or what wines are great wines but matching them to foods is a whole new art form. Have you ever been at a restaurant and your date says you pick the wine… as you look down the list a few things come to mind, what do you like, what will they like, what the price is and what are we eating! It is all about the mix of sweetness, tannins, acidity, body and even the alcohol content. I know this sounds like the sort of complex chemistry we have since avoided since our school days but with the basic tips below, you should be able to navigate these minefields and look pretty informed while you do it! A well-matched wine should also compliment your food and make the whole experience that much more enjoyable. So relax, pop a bottle and enjoy, after all wine drinking is not nuclear fission and shouldn’t be taken too seriously!

  1. Acidic food requires acidic wine: the acidity in the food will overpower the wine leaving your taste buds left a little deflated and disappointed. So if you are having citrus or fish go for a label description of high acidity like a Sauvignon Blanc or even Champagne!
  2. Combine sweeter wine with salty food. Sweet and salty doesn’t have to be reserved for popcorn, the sweetness of a wine will help cut the salt in the food. So for Pork dishes or meals with anchovies or olives why not try a Riesling or Zinfandel.
  3. High acidity, bitterness or high alcohol wines work well with fatty foods! You can see this in the classic steak and dry red wine combinations or the addition of white wine to a beurre blanc sauce. The wine cuts the fat and adds a refreshing note to the palate during the meal. This also happens in higher alcohol content wines which pair well with rich deserts or meals that you expect to eat slowly, slow roasted pork belly etc. The bitterness comes from the tannin levels in the wine, which are apparent in most red wines such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, which tend to be fuller bodied.
  4. Take it from the same region! Well this one makes perfect sense now we say it but South African dishes go well with… well South African wines. When you think of all the beautiful meats, charcuteries, cheeses and flavours that we export up north it makes no surprise that the wines they grown match perfectly!

Check out our common wine group pages for more detail on the type of wine and what food/cuisine it pairs well with for further inspiration, either for the food or for the pairing!