Wine and food pairings are generally a matter of personal preference although there are some guidelines that we follow to ensure the best dining experience possible.

The idea is to complement your food with a good bottle of wine so that our taste buds aren’t overpowered and that the true taste of both the wine and the food come through.

The modern rule of wine and food pairing is to combine the finest wines with lightly spiced dishes. When choosing a dish, you need to make sure that it doesn’t overpower the delicate taste of fine wines.

White Wines

If you prefer a spicier Asian or Mexican dish, it is a good idea to choose strong flavoured white wines such as the South African Glenelly Grand Vin Chardonnay 2012. A modern consensus is that seafood is one of the best cuisines for pairing with wines. White fish should complement white wines very well, unless a strong tomato-based sauce is used. Tannic, full-bodied red wines, taste a bit metallic when paired with fish, so it’s rarely used. However, a Pinot Noir such as the 2014 Domaine de la Cote Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir or another light red wine can be a great companion to tuna, salmon or any rich flavoured fish.

Full Bodied Reds

Lamb, beef and game should work well with solid, full-bodied red wines, because tannins will combine with muscle tissue and fat to release an extra flavour to the dish. An Australian Cabernet such as the 2013 Vasse Felix Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a good choice here.

There’s a new consensus amongst wine connoisseurs that the flavour of cheese can be enhanced equally by both red and white wines. However, when using red wine, it is better to choose softer cheese, such as goats cheese. White wines should pair better with camembert, brie and other harder, crusted cheeses.

Sweet Dessert Wines

Lastly, you need to consider what type of wine to pair with desserts and fruits. This still causes a debate amongst many wine-tasting experts. Chocolate-based desserts pair well with many red wines, like Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, it is still a matter of personal preference if you want to combine wine with any sweet dessert. A good, delicate white wine will increase the flavour of many desserts.

When choosing a wine, you should make sure that it can properly accentuate the taste of the food. It may also be influenced by personal preferences and some people may go against the common rules set by wine-tasting experts. Wine pairing is a subtle art and expert recommendations are still a good starting point, before you define your own unique, personal taste for pairings.

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