The Art of Food and Wine Pairing: Find Your Inner Sommelier

Pick your dish, match your drop

Learning about wine can be challenging enough. But then when it comes to food and wine pairing, well, that’s a whole new ball game. Who hasn’t been left cringing internally when you arrive at a dinner party with a bottle of your favourite red and receive a ‘Oh, that’s nice of you, but we’re having fish’ kind of response? Well thanks Sharon, but fish and red wine can and do go together quite nicely, thank you very much. But, we digress…

Delving into food and wine pairing is a little like opening Pandora’s box, but to be honest, it’s definitely one worth opening. Learning to match wine with food is an excellent skill to have and one that you can build upon. But we’ve all gotta start somewhere, so we thought we’d pick 5 popular wines and suggest dishes that will open those aromas up perfectly. So let’s invigorate our senses so that you can become your group’s very own sommelier.

Cabernet Sauvignon

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One of the most popular wine varieties in the world, Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied wine with hints of black cherry, black currant, spiced and cedar. This is one of the most common varietals planted in the Bordeaux region and often has bold tannins and a higher level of alcohol. This rich wine goes perfectly with smoked meats, roast lamb or beef, firm cheeses such as aged cheddar or harder cheeses similar to Pecorino. This is a perfect wine for a cosy dinner party with friends.

Food and wine pairing: Slow-cooked lamb shoulder served with tahini and remoulade at Pink Salt (for two). Paired with the Tom Foolery ‘Son of a Gun’ Cabernet Sauvignon from the Barossa.

Pinot Noir

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Despite Noir translating to black, Pinot Noir is a dry light-bodied variety. This is a very vibrant red that has aromas from cherry, cranberry and rose present. Although you’ll also find notes of beetroot, rhubarb and mushroom creating a very interesting profile indeed. Pinot Noir has a higher acidity with soft tannins and goes perfectly with meats like chicken, pork, veal and duck. It also matches Asian-inspired dishes, cured meats and medium or soft cheeses like Gruyère.

Food and wine pairing: The 4-hour slow-cooked, grilled spicy pork ribs served with Asian coleslaw and chilli coriander dressing at Amok. Paired with the St Clair Family Estate from Marlborough in New Zealand. Also be sure to try their degustation, it’s a firm favourite of ours.


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When considering a match made in heaven, Chardonnay and shellfish are all you really need to think about. Of course, this delicious wine goes with other dishes too including chicken, pork and soft cheeses like triple brie. Though, Chardonnay shines the most when it’s paired with seafood and shellfish like shrimp, lobster and crab. This medium to full-bodied variety is citrusy with hints of Meyer lemon, pear and apple, as well as tropical notes like banana and pineapple. Often there will be cinnamon, butterscotch and toasted caramel coming from the oak. Fun fact – Chardonnay is the white grape of Burgundy.

Food and wine pairing: The grilled seafood platter at Sammy’s on the Marina with grilled lobster, king prawns, octopus, scallops, King George whiting, chips and salad. Paired with the Oakridge ‘Willow Lake’ Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley.

Pinot Gris

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Pinot Gris is on the lighter end of the spectrum, a dry wine with delicate notes of citrus and pomaceous fruits – think apple and pear alongside white floral notes. This is one of the easiest wines to drink and goes perfectly with a fresh salad, poached fish and light or mild cheeses. Think summertime with your best friends, sipping and nibbling antipasti in the sunshine. Order a bottle of this and you are sure to impress!

Food and wine pairing: Shadows of blue tart, Waldorf salad and mustard grapes at Deer Duck Bistro. Paired alongside the BK Pinot Gris from Adelaide Hills in South Australia.


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Last but not least, there is Riesling. This can divide a table as often when made a table wine, Riseling can be either very sweet and sour or dry and acidic. It’s a floral variety and is a fruit-driven aromatic wine – hence the variable sweetness. You’ll find citrus notes from kefir lime and lemon juice as well as stone fruit aromas. This wine goes well with white meats like chicken, pork and turkey, as well as cured meats. It also matches Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, German and Moroccan cuisines and is an excellent wine to match with fondue.

Food and wine pairing: The seared duck breast with grilled eggplant served with an Asian salad dressed in a soy vinaigrette at Chilli Orange. Paired with the Ad Hoc Wallflower Riesling from Mount Barker in Western Australia.

So there you have it. Now go forth and match food with wine, foodies. Your friends and family will be impressed and your palate will be all kinds of happy. Recipe for success, don’t you think?