Wine Wisdom: The Ultimate How-To Guide For Pairing Wine With Healthy Dishes

Intimidated by the thought of weekday wine pairing with all your healthy favorites? Relax and let this handy guide take you through the basics!

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When I first started learning about pairing wine and food, I was so focused on what wouldn’t work together that I forgot to enjoy learning about what did taste good. Once I was able to relax and enjoy the process, I realized how easily a few easy rules could simplify pairing wine with food, including healthy go-to recipes that were already a part of my weekly routine. So if you’re intimidated by the thought of weekday wine pairing on top of selecting and executing healthy favorites when it comes to meals, relax and let this handy guide take you through the basics.

Pair like a pro.

When it comes down to it, wine pairing is about enhancing the pre-existing flavors and aromas in both the wine and the food. Generally speaking, lighter-tasting foods and wines work well together while more intensely flavored foods and more robust wines pair with equal ease. Keeping your wine at least slightly sweeter than your meal is also a good general guideline to follow, as overtly acidic wine will taste sour when paired with food that’s on the sweeter side. But that same acidic wine will taste much better if it’s paired with fattier dish where it will have a chance to cut through some of the richness of the meal. Also, open the bottle and give your wine a chance to breathe for at least half an hour if possible! No fancy decanters needed—this super-simple step will change the taste of your wine for the better, allowing the wine to mellow out, losing some of its sharpness before it’s time to wine and dine.

To organic, or not to organic?

According to the Organic Consumers Association, organic wine can either be labeled “organic” or “made with organic grapes.” Wine that is 100 percent USDA certified organic must be made from organic grapes that have been grown without herbicides or pesticides, and it cannot contain added sulfites. Be aware that wine labeled “made with organic grapes,” on the other hand, must use organically grown grapes but can involve the addition of sulfites during the winemaking process.

Enjoy the sweeter side of roasting.

Unassuming yet delicious, roasted vegetables get sophisticated when lightly browned in the oven and paired with a naturally sweet wine such as Gewürztraminer or Riesling.

Eat your greens (and drink your wine)!

Who says you can’t have wine with a green salad? Add a baked or poached chicken breast and pour yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris, as the higher acidity in those wines won’t be overwhelmed by a tart vinaigrette.

Fish and white wine? Not so fast!

Grilled salmon—along with other oily and stronger-tasting types of fish—can handle both white wines and red ones that are bigger in flavor. Try pairing salmon with an oaky Chardonnay or an earthy Pinot Noir that’s been slightly chilled for the occasion.

Bright and light wines pair perfectly with avocado.

Even breakfast-for-dinner or a just-got-home snack is wine worthy when it comes to avocado toast or guacamole! Think citrus-forward and brightly flavored wines for this duo—a dry rosé or ultra-light Vinho Verde and avocado mash makes a perfect pairing.

Chocolate and wine are a match made in heaven.

One of the best parts about being an adult is that you can decide to have dessert for dinner without guilt, right? Dark chocolate and strawberries are treats worth savoring, especially when accompanied by a late-harvest red wine such as Beaujolais or Merlot. Fruity notes in those wines eagerly accentuate the sweetness of chocolate and berries. The best way to figure out the pairings that you like? Pick up a couple bottles of vino and start experimenting!

Ashley Linkletter
Ashley Linkletter is a food writer and photographer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her work has appeared in Culture Cheese Magazine, SAD Magazine, EAT Magazine, and she is a regular contributor to Weight Watchers Canada. Ashley’s area of expertise is cheese and wine, and she’s authored a biweekly cheese column for Scout Magazine called Beyond Cheddar as well as writing about Canadian cheeses for Food Bloggers of Canada. Ashley’s personal blog musicwithdinner explores the emotional connection between food and music while providing original recipes and photographs. She strongly believes in cooking and eating as powerful mindfulness exercises and encourages her readers to find pleasure and a sense of calm while preparing food.

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