Wine and food pairing is more of an art than a science. However, if you follow these simple guidelines, you'll be off to a palatable start!  

Check out our quick food & wine pairing guide, and scroll down for more tips!


Vinley Market Wine & Food Pairing Guide

Wines to Pair with Acidic Foods

Acidic foods, like ceviche and salads with vinaigrette dressing, pair well with acidic wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and zesty, unoaked Chardonnays like Chablis. Anything else and you run the risk that your tangy dish will overwhelm your softer wine.

Wines to Pair with Chicken & Salmon

Rosés, Pinot Noirs and California-style Chardonnays are generally accepted as good salmon and roasted chicken pairings, but it really does depend on how the meat is prepared. Richer fish and chicken dishes can stand up to a Pinot or even a Zin, if you’re in the mood for a red.

If it’s white you’re after, roasted chicken, fatty fish like salmon or black cod, and fish or chicken that has been cooked in a heavy butter sauce pairs great with California-style Chardonnay. Chardonnays from New World regions like California, Australia and Chile are likely to have a full body and heavy mouth feel, much like the dishes in mention. This is because New World Chardonnays typically undergo a special second fermentation called malolactic fermentation, which converts the wine’s tart malic acid (the acid in apples) to smooth lactic acid (the acid in milk). The resulting, smooth textured wine matches the oily texture in rich dishes, making for a great classic pairing.

Wines to pair with Dessert

With wine and food, like goes with like and dessert is no different. The sweetness in a great slice of chocolate cake will overpower a wine that doesn’t have the sugar to match. Sauternes, Riesling, Port, and sweet sparkling wines are all great pairings.

Wines to pair with Mexican & Spicy Food

When a dish is heavily seasoned, red wines like Argentine Malbec, Washington Syrah, or Spanish Garnacha with lots of spicy notes are good choices. If your food brings on the heat, then wines with a little bit of residual sugar and high acid are really good choices. Chile heat tends to make wine taste bitterer and can make wines with high alcohol burn unpleasantly. Therefore skip the red and opt for a crisp white like Sauvignon Blanc, or a white with residual sugar like Riesling and Semi Sweet (Demi Sec) sparkling wine.

Wines to pair with Pasta

If you follow the theory that what grows together goes together, then pairing Italian food and Italian wines is a safe bet. Tomato sauces are pretty acidic, so when you think about pairing a wine with your mom’s secret spaghetti sauce recipe, choose red wines with the acid to match. Sangiovese and Chianti are great bold reds with tanginess to match. You also can’t go wrong with a Napa Valley Cabernet, particularly where meatier dishes are concerned. 

wines to pair with Pizza & Burgers

Pinot Noir delivers sumptuous berry and spice flavors, often with an earthy undercurrent. This easy drinking, much beloved red pairs with a wide range of foods. It’s a finicky grape to grow and so can be on the pricier side. But the soft texture of the wine goes great with richer foods.

Wines to pair Red Meat

Argentine Malbecs are superb with grilled meats, as the wine is made to match their grill-all-day cuisine. Of course, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends are classic red meat pairings, where the heavy textures of the food and wine complement each other nicely.

Wines to pair with Salty Foods

First, we’ll give a disclaimer. Salty food tends to make most wine taste better. It makes red wine seem less bitter and white wine less acidic. That said, a great salty food pairing is sparkling wine. Many sparkling wines have a touch of sweetness and this makes a salty dish taste very refreshing.

Wines to pair with Seafood

A powerful wine can often overwhelm delicate fish flavors. Choose instead a white wine with good acidity and subtle flavors, like Chablis from France or Pinot Grigio from Italy. The tart acidity in these wines also stands up nicely to the citrus and vinegar sauces that tend to accompany seafood dishes. And if it’s oysters you’re after, crisp French whites or dry sparkling wines are famous pairings.

Wines to pair with Thai & Indian food

Thai food and Riesling are matches made in wine heaven. Riesling also goes great with Indian food, where the slight sweetness in the wine helps tame the heat in the food. Riesling’s good acidity also helps keep the palate refreshed in the face of heavy fare. As a rule, sweet food pairs well with sweet wine, so if you’re dealing with a savory and sweet dish, other great options include Gewürztraminer, Vouvray, Chenin Blanc, and Semi Sweet (Demi Sec) sparkling wine.