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Food & Wine Pairing 101

Food & Wine Pairing 101



As with many things that involve wine, food and wine pairing can be an intimidating endeavor.  So to make things easier, here are a couple suggestions and some things to keep in mind when choosing a wine for your dinners. We’ve found that with just a little bit of knowledge and the names of a couple wines listed on your cellphone, you’ll be able to make great choices no matter what you’re having for dinner. 


Basic Facts

• The human palate can distinguish 5 basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty & umami (the savory taste of shiitake mushrooms, monosodium glutamate, or any food rich in glutamic acid). Since wine is rarely perceived as salty or shiitake-like, we are left with sweet, sour & bitter as the 3 basic tastes in wine. 

• Food allows us to experience all five tastes plus the sensations of hot (temperature and/or spiciness) and cold.

• Food allows us to experience all five tastes plus the sensations of hot (temperature and/or spiciness) & cold. Both food & wine have texture, in other words, how they feel in the mouth. When pairing food & wine, the goal is to match the texture in the food with the texture of the wine. 


How to Pair Food with Wine

First, consider intensity of the dish.

Second, select wine of the same intensity level. For example, a light sautéed shrimp in white wine & garlic would not pair well with a heavy red. Always pair light with light & heavy with heavy. 

Here is a list of a few types of wine and their intensity levels. Some wines will be labeled by which grape is used & some wines will be labeled by where they come from.


Light White

Pinot Grigio

Sauvignon Blanc


Heavy White




Light Red

Pinot Noir

Chianti (Chianti Classico has a medium intensity)


Medium Red





Heavy Red

Cabernet Sauvignon




While we could go on & on, these simple tips plus lots of practice (the fun part!) should have you on your way to wine pairing greatness. Remember that there is really only one rule to follow: drink what you like! That includes price point. While you do generally get what you pay for, there are plenty of great wines out there for $12 to $15. They may have names that aren’t familiar or be made from grape you’ve never heard of before, but if you’re open to trying new wines, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you’ll find. 


Want to know more? Email Don at Sherlocks