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What Foods Go With Your Favourite Wines?

Having wine with dinner isn’t just a simple thing anymore. With modern cuisine becoming more mixed and wines coming from new regions all around the world, the pairing choices are becoming greater and the complexities more confounding. While it often comes down to personal preference, just as most people don’t put tomato sauce on ice cream, a delicate white wine simply doesn’t go with a hearty meat dish, either.

When the union of food and wine works well, they each enhance the other, making the meal greater than if you had consumed the two separately. Even if you are preparing a gift basket for someone, it’s important that, in the case of wine gift baskets, you appropriately pair the wine with the other gourmet selections. The following is a brief guide to some of the most popular wines, and what food is best to pair them with.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignons can have bitter, dark fruit flavours and are well known for their mouth drying tannins. So when it comes to a red wine with such a strong personality, you need food to match, such as juicy proteins like rare steak, duck, roast chicken, wild game or tuna. The protein helps to soften the tannin, making the wine taste more smooth and fruity. The way the food is prepared makes a difference, however, as a well-done steak may taste too dry with a cabernet that has a lot of tannin.

Merlot

Merlot is the softer sibling to Cabernet Sauvignon thanks to the more subtle tannin presence. For that reason, Merlot should be paired with foods that have a more subtle flavour, such as braised chicken, cold duck, roasted turkey, roasted beef, lamb, salmon, veal, stew, pasta with red sauce, liver venison and meat casseroles. You can also enjoy a full-bodied glass of Merlot with strong cheeses, mushrooms, wild rice, and chocolate.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay makes for a full-flavoured, rich white wine, and depending where you get it from, it can be buttery, oaky, minerally, fruity, or any combination of those. Because of its relatively light and buttery flavours, it’s best to pair Chardonnay with food that complements that flavour rather than anything too acidic or flavourful. Appetisers such as crab cakes, olives or oysters complement Chardonnay nicely, as do cheeses such as Provolone, Gruyere and mild cheddar. For a meal, pair Chardonnay with seafood in butter sauce, chicken, pasta with cream sauce, veal, turkey and ham. This wine also complements light and fruity desserts that have mango, pineapple and honeydew in them.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a light-flavoured, crisp white wine that is relatively dry with herbaceous qualities. This is a very food-friendly wine, and is terrific for appetisers such as artichoke dip, veggie dishes, dips, creamy sauces and fragrant salads. Basically, pair Sauvignon Blanc with delicately flavoured and slightly acidic dishes because its crisp, straightforward flavour does well when it’s not burdened by heavy meals. Anything grilled or sautéed with vegetables such as fish, chicken or seafood will go nicely with the flavour of Sauvignon Blanc.

While there are many pairings that have been tried, tested and deemed to be worthy, your best source of food and wine matching is still your own palate, so try experimenting with different combinations to find the perfect pairing for you. You never know, you might stumble across something no one else has tried!