passport wine and spirits logo

Home | Contact Us | Map | FAQ

Wine and Food FAQ’s

Yes. You may want to serve a red wine with one course and a white wine with another course. Or, you may want to serve both a red and white wine to give your guests a choice of wine they prefer to drink with a particular course or the whole meal. This also gives you a chance to experiment with matching foods and wines and to discover combinations you like best. You will learn more by tasting food and wine pairings than by trying to follow rules about matching food and wine. Traditionally, you want to serve wines and foods from lighter to heavier throughout the evening. The following order of wine has also been used to enhance the enjoyment of each wine: serve dry wines before sweet wines, white wines before red wines, and young wines before older wines.

The only “rule” is that you should drink wines you like with foods you like. Unless you find the pairing offensive, an enjoyable match is a successful match. The following are some loose guidelines for matching food and wine that you may find useful:

•    Match light wines with light foods (this can either be a light white wine or a light red wine).
•    Try a wine with just a touch of sweetness (called off-dry wine) with savory foods that have a bit of sweetness to them or spicy foods for balance.
•    If a food is acidic or tart, try a wine that is high in acid as a complement.
•    Bitter foods will accentuate bitterness in a wine, so try wine that is not overly tannic with bitter foods.
•    More tannic wines will balance astringent foods.

Start with the wines you like best and discover for yourself if you enjoy the match. If you would like a place to start, keep this in mind--The more complicated the flavors in the food, the simpler the wine should be—like a wine that is fruity, fresh, and young. The acidity in wine heightens the flavors in food.

Sushi and Sashimi - Sparkling wine is perfect: light in flavor and alcohol, it won’t overwhelm delicate crab, tuna and other fish; tangy acidity cools hot ginger and wasabi (horseradish). Zippy whites like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are winners, too.

Japanese Teriyaki - Deep salty-sweet teriyaki flavors work well with Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blends

Spicy Szechwan Chinese Dishes - The hot chilies and richly flavored sauces of dishes like Kung Pao Chicken or Mu Shu Pork need fruity wines, even slightly sweet. Try chilled White Zinfandel or White Merlot, a Riesling, dry Grenache rosé from California or Southern France, or lighter-bodied reds like Gamay or Beaujolais.

Tex-Mex Style Enchiladas, Tamales, Burritos - This is bold food, with big smoky tomato flavors and the heavy textures of beans, roasted meats and melted cheese: you’ll need a wine with body, bright fruit flavors and enough acidity to give the foods some zing. Look for chardonnay with little oak aging, a medium-bodied Zinfandel or Merlot, a young Chianti Classico.

Beef or Chicken Fajitas with Salsa - More bold flavors, punched up with tangy tomato salsa, sweet grilled onion and assertive cilantro. Go for a medium-bodied Pinot Noir, a red Cotes du Rhone blend, a Cabernet-Merlot blend from Washington State or a Grenache-Shiraz blend from Australia.

Greek Roast Lamb with Olive Oil & Garlic with a Tomato, Olive and Feta Cheese Salad - Pungent Mediterranean flavors let you go wild with wine. Try robust southern Italian reds, California Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, or a spicy, smoky Shiraz from Australia. If you can find a Greek red like Naoussa or Nemea, go for it!

Pad Thai and Piquant Thai Dishes - Thai food’s generally light-bodied, but the flavors pack a wallop. Almost every dish combines sweet, sour, salty and hot elements. Chilled, slightly sweet Riesling, especially from Germany, can be fabulous; also look for dry Gewurztraminer or a fruit-packed Sauvignon Blanc, perhaps from New Zealand.

Indian Curries and Chutney - For playing with the sweet-hot contrast so typical of Indian foods, off-dry Riesling’s always a good choice; White Zin or White Merlot will please those who like sweeter wines. A Semillon-Chardonnay blend from Washington or Australia brings out fruit, nut and coconut flavors.

Middle Eastern Mezze (Stuffed Grape Leaves, Hummus, Tabbouli, Falafel) - Choose a smooth, fruity Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon-Chardonnay blend. Lighter-bodied reds like Beaujolais or Grenache are flavorful enough to stand up to garlic and pungent spices, yet acidic enough to refresh.

Pizza - Pizza works well with many wines—Sangiovese, Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Gris or Chardonnay.