Wine and Food Pairing Basics

What to do when your host asks you to “bring the wine.” Tips for choosing the perfect wine, even if you know nothing about wine. Wine and food pairing basics. Like any good party guest, you ask your host if there is anything you can bring. But do you break out in a cold sweat when they suggest you “bring the wine” or at least “bring a bottle of wine” to the party? Don’t. Finding the perfect bottle of wine is a snap, even if you know little about wine.

Simple “Bringing the Wine” Guidelines:

The first thing you do is ask your host what’s on the menu so that you can choose a wine that goes well with it. Also, consider whether the party is casual or formal.

  • At this point you can Evel Knievel right over the rest of the guidelines here, go straight to any good wine shop and ask them to suggest a wine for the occasion that is ‘respectable but reasonably priced.’
  • This is an excellent way for anyone to find new, exciting wines; often, they will recommend little known wines from small or local wineries that you will come to love.
  • And when you are asked about the wine? Answer honestly, that you haven’t tried it yet but you hear it’s very good.

Bring the best wine you can afford or is appropriate for the occasion.

Let your choice complement the expense and effort of your hosts.

Don’t spend less than $15 on wine unless you are absolutely certain of its quality.

Never bring an inferior wine to hosts you feel have little wine appreciation. Somehow, sometime, it will bite you right on your…er… reputation.

Wine and Food Pairing  Basics:

  • Red wine goes with red meat. It’s also most appropriate for a barbecue. In fact, you might check with your host about bringing Red Wine Sangria to the barbecue. No one doesn’t like it.
  • White wine goes with white meat and fish.
  • Champagne or sparkling wine starts an evening well, or pairs well at mealtime with anything but very heavy foods, like steak.
  • Anything goes with pasta, but a nice Italian wine always seems most appropriate.
  • Sweet wines go with sweet food. In fact, you might consider bringing a dessert wine; most people don’t think of that.

Handy Wine and Cheese Pairings Chart

What’s more controversial than religion and politics? Wine and cheese pairings. So I’m invoking the GPR motto: “If anything is a matter of taste, it’s food.”

I will say that this page pairs well with the wine and cheese party page. Like Stilton and pears, the two pages were made for each other. No, really. They were made for each other.

Wine and Cheese Pairings Chart, with Fruit

Below are a few classic pairings of wine and cheese, and the fruits that complement them. The information is charted by cheese categories; not all of them, just those most likely to grace a cheese and wine tasting party.

Without debate, the lines between the cheese categories are very faint. In fact, cheese is mischievous, always trying to blur the lines, each always wanting its own category. Wine has its quirks, too. With that in mind– the chart. Have fun.

Cheese Wine Fruit
Soft, Fresh Cheeses
Uncooked, unripened cheeses, mild and creamy with a slight tang; spreadable.
Cream Cheese, Mascarpone, Neufchatel Champagne Apples, Grapes, Pears, Mangos, Melons
Soft, Ripened Cheeses
Mild with smooth and creamy-to-oozy textures and thin skins.
Brie, Camembert Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Port, Sherry Plums, Berries, Apples
Semi-Soft Cheeses
Mild, buttery taste and smooth texture; easily sliced.
Fontina Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio Apples, Pears
Havarti Chardonnay, Dry Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc Grapes, Pears, Raisins
Monterey Jack, Muenster Beaujolais, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc Plums, Strawberries, Peaches
Mozzarella (Fresh) Beaujolais, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir Berries, Melons, Peaches, Pineapple
Semi-Hard Cheeses
Rich, nutty, often mild flavors with textures from smooth to holey to flaky.
Cheddar, Edam, Gouda Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling Apples, Grapes, Peaches, Pears
Emmentaler, Swiss Champagne, Gewurtzraminer, Riesling Apples, Grapes, Peaches, Pears
Gruyère, Provolone Amarone, Beaujolais, Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Sauternes, Sauvignon Blanc, Port Grapes, Melons, Peaches, Pineapple
Hard Cheeses
Aged cheeses with intense, sharp flavors.
Aged Asiago Bardolino, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Rioja, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc Apples, Pears
Parmesan Burgundy, Chianti, Merlot, Riesling Apples, Figs, Grapes
Romano Amarone, Barbesco, Barolo, Chianti, Zinfandel Melons, Mangos
Hispanic-Style Cheeses (Quesos)
Hispanic cheeses run the gamut of flavors and textures, and then some. Below are three popular Mexican cheeses suitable for wine and cheese pairing.
Asadero (semi-soft, a cross between Mozzarella and Monterey Jack) Champagne, Chardonnay Apples, Peaches, Pears
(hard, pungent, similar to Parmesan)
Chardonnay, Riesling Bananas, Berries, Mangos
Queso Blanco (fresh, crumbly, similar to Monterey Jack) Dry Rosé Grapes, Pears, Raisins
Blue-Veined Cheeses
Intensely sharp, pungent, earthy flavors, aromatic with smooth-to-crumbly textures.
Blue, Gorgonzola, Roquefort Amarone, Moscato, Port, Sauternes Apples, Grapes, Pears
Stilton Port Pears
Goat Cheeses
Sharp, tangy flavors and textures ranging from soft and crumbly to hard, depending on aging.
Chèvre, Feta Champagne, Chenin Blanc, Pouilly Fume, Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc Apples, Pears, Peaches


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