Cheat’s Guide to Matching Food and Wines

Cheat’s Guide to Matching Food and Wines

Matching wines to food can be a daunting thing for the uninitiated. When a bottle only has one thing on the back, and that thing is enjoy with confit duck and peppered greens that’s all well and good – but if you’re the type of person who burns the toast, you can be in for a frustrating time.

Good news! We’ve compiled a quick go-to summary of the types of food and wines that are commonly found in NZ – to give you a bigger and better range of options when deciding which white to pair with your flash fish dish.

The reds

The lowdown with red wine: the bigger and bolder the flavours in the food, the bigger and bolder the flavours should also be in the wine. Think rich, meaty stews, barbecued and roasted red meats, roasted root veggies, aged cheeses and heavy and creamy or peppery sauces.

  • Bold: Shiraz, Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon – steak, barbecued ribs, cured meats, hard or aged cheeses
  • Medium: Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Merlot, Grenache – red meats, pork, duck, venison, roasted veggies, hard cheeses and cured meats
  • Light: Pinot Noir, Gamay – white meat, rich oily fish and seafood, roasted veggies, starches such as sourdough, potatoes and crackers

The whites

As with the red contingent, white wine goes with a lighter style of food. With red meats, heavier sauces and a tonne of flavour, the food is likely to drown out a white wine and wreak havoc on something which would otherwise taste balanced and fresh. You can get a little creative with heavier whites, though – which we’ve listed:

  • Rich: Chardonnay, Marsanne, Viognier – chicken, pork, light duck dishes, oily fish and sauce-heavy seafood, white fleshed fish, starches such as bread and potato, soft cheeses
  • Sweet: Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Moscato – most cheeses including hard, soft and aged, cured meats such as salami and mortadella, desserts and sweets
  • Dry: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Albariño, Grüner Veltliner – fresh and roasted veggies, salads, white fleshed fish and lighter seafood such as scallops, crab and mussels

The others

There are quite a few wines which don’t fit into the red and white category, so we’ve lumped those together for easy reference below with their recommended (or failsafe!) pairings.

  • Sparkling: Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, labels marked ‘sparkling’ – most cheeses including soft, hard and aged, starches such as breads, crackers, light pastas, most fish and seafood (especially white-fleshed fish and shellfish)
  • Dessert: labels marked ‘late harvest’, Ice Wine/Eiswein, Sherry, Port – All types of sweet dishes, desserts, hard and matured cheeses – but also most cured meats like prosciutto

As for Rosé, that’s a little difficult to define because there are now so many different types, they tend to fall into their own categories. To make it easier, generally Rosé from France is very dry in style (as opposed to Kiwi/Aussie versions, which tend to be fruiter and sweet in style). Spanish and Portuguese Rosé is generally heavier than French as well, typically what you’d describe as a ‘medium’ style, sitting between the two. So, with that said:

  • Light, dry Rosé (typically from France) - salads, light pasta and rice dishes, especially with seafood, raw and lightly cooked shellfish and grilled fish and goats’ cheeses, mildly spiced curries
  • Medium-bodied Rosé (typically from Spain and Portugal) - tapenade, paella, grilled chicken, fish, herbed lamb, rustic pâtés and terrines, ham and sheep's cheese
  • Full-bodied, fruity Rosé (typically from Australia and New Zealand) - ideal for a barbecue, spicy food such as curries, Asian-inspired fare. Also good with ripe peaches, unsweetened strawberries and not overly sweet berry tarts

As a final tip, there are a few foods that are actually quite hard to match with wines. You’ll find this is the case with asparagus, green beans, artichoke, brussels sprouts, and chocolate (believe it or not!).

There are plenty of wines not mentioned here, however if your label mentions the keywords we’ve picked out above, or falls into the general category, you should be good to go with the suggestions made.

As always, if you’re stuck on which wines to choose that will really elevate your understanding of wine – sign up to Bottle Service and let us do the hard work for you 😊

Happy sipping!



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