Ask Tom – Matching Food and Wine

Dear Tom

Can you tell me how to match food and wine ?  Should I stick with the classics – what about modern dishes?

Matching food and wine is probably more art than science and matches should be measured more on a scale than a simple yes/no.

One often speaks of food-friendly wines – that is wines with the body, tannin and acidity to stand up to food – but equally, there are wine-friendly foods, such as plain roast meats, simple fish dishes or anything with a classic sauce (and that does not include Daddies or HP !).

Once you have your food sorted, whilst there will always be an element of personal preference, there are a few basic principles to bear in mind:

– A crisp, acidic wine will cut through rich, fatty foods (white wine with cheese or pork).

– Tannic wines (Bordeaux, Rioja) will be softened by protein such as red meat (hence the classic matches of beef and lamb).

– Tannic wines do not match well with salty food (red wine and crisps is not a match made in heaven).

– Match heavy creamy or buttery sauces to more full-bodied wines (full-bodied whites will stand up to and cut through a hearty cream-based sauce).

And remember, some foods are just not wine-friendly – anything that is too greasy and / or sweet is best matched with beer instead (think chips, spring rolls, baked beans or anything with ketchup).

Also excessively strong flavours (such as Indian curries) will also overpower most wines, so if you are dirnking wine and want some spice, use it sparingly.

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About Tom Lewis

Tom Lewis is a wine writer and educator from Cambridge with a particular interest in Austria and France. His comments have been published on, Local Wine Events, as well as in the local press in his hometown of Cambridge, UK. When it comes to buying wine, Tom’s philosophy is to buy as close as possible to where it comes from. He writes a regular blog, the Cambridge Wine Blogger which launched in 2009 and is a presenter for the Cambridge Food and Wine Society. To read more of Tom’s work, please check out
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