What Food Pairs Best With Wine?

Wine goes with almost every kind of food, but what kind of food pairs best with wine of all kinds? A liquor critic weighs in.

If there's one thing I adore, it's a good meal alongside a great wine pairing. I love to pair wine with Italian food, wine with seafood, and even wine with chocolate. As many wine aficionados would maintain, there's a wine pairing out there for every food — yes, even the bad ones.

The truth is that there are some foods that definitely pair with wine better than others. As both a liquor critic and a fan of wine pairings of all kinds, I'm going to explain which food pairs best with wine...and talk about some of the runners-up, too. 

Chocolate

Chocolate and wine are basically a girl's best friend — and it's become pretty darn trendy to have chocolate and wine pairing tastings for a girls' night out. Chocolate is actually a great choice for wine pairings, primarily because there's a lot of variety in flavors and richness. 

However, there are certain wines that are seriously hard to pair with any kind of chocolate. Dry reds are basically out of the question, and dry whites often end up making the chocolate taste chalky. Many sommeliers call chocolate one of the hardest to pair food categories out there, and sadly, I'd agree. 

Since this choice would put a huge portion of wines off the list, I can't say this is one of the foods that pairs best with wine. However, it's still a great combo for a de-stress night, and I can't argue that.

Seafood

Seafood can really handle its own against most white wines, and it never really seems to matter what cuisine nationality the recipe's from, either. The acidity of white wine blends well with crab, fish, and even oysters. Simply put, this is a match made in heaven if you like white wine

The problem with seafood is that it often can only go with white wine or sparkling wines. After all, a tannin-heavy red will probably wreck the texture of many seafood dishes. 

That being said, I'm a fan of French and creole recipes involving seafood paired with almost any kind of wine. 

So, while a boulliabase or jambalaya will always pair well with a light red, the truth is that this particular category doesn't allow you to pair everything well without a little struggle. As a result, you can't really say that seafood is the food that pairs best with wine of every type. 

Bread

Bread and wine were actually staples in Ancient Rome, way before the time Christianity existed. Historically, people loved drinking wine and eating bread. Truthfully, it's not a bad combo if you ignore the odd "Holy Communion" vibe you might get from eating this. 

Breads, when presented with the right spreads, butters, and jams, can make for a very impressive pairing tool. The problem is that eating so much bread and wine can get redundant — and that you'll often end up relying on spreads and toppings to really make pairings taste different from one another. 

Moreover, if you're lucky enough to get a variety of breads going on, then it can make for a good wine pairing experience without the use of spread. However, this can be hard to do unless you live near a patisserie or a boulangerie. 

Additionally, certain bread types will also rely on spreads to be able to pair with wine decently. So, while you can definitely get a good tasting in, it's not necessarily the food that pairs best with wine. We can do better. 

Cheese

Wine and cheese pairings have always been a huge favorite among sommelier groups, and it's easy to see why. There's enough variety in flavor, texture, and pungence to make for a lot of different wine pairings. 

To a point, cheese is pretty legendary when it comes to wine pairings. It's a time-tested duo that has managed to withstand saccharine sherries, Extra Brut Champagnes, and just about everything in between. There's a wine for every cheese, and a cheese for every wine. 

So, if you're wondering what food item pairs best with wine, cheese would definitely have to be it. 

Charcuterie Boards

Meat plates, also known as charcuterie boards, focus on pairing wines with the zesty cured meats that one can find at upscale delis and supermarkets. A good charcuterie board often will have cheese pairings, pickled vegetables, and a wide range of different meat slices. 

In terms of pairings, it's really hard to outdo a well put-together charcuterie board. After all, the entire concept behind them is to show a blend of different flavors and textures that are expected to pair well with wine, or just fare well on their own. 

Personally, I believe that charcuterie boards are one of the best food concepts for wine tastings, primarily because they go beyond cheese and delve into other textures, flavors, and ingredient lists.  

Variety is what makes this such an easy food concept to pair with wine. However, the wine tasting experience you have will only be as good as the board you put together. So, if you're looking for a world class experience with an Oscar Meyer weenie pairing, you're probably out of luck. 

Mediterranean Food

Wine has always been closely associated with Mediterranean cuisine, primarily because of how commonly enjoyed it was in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. The truth is that the cuisine in Southern Europe has long been stylized to go well with the wines — which is why so many of their dishes already have traditional wine pairings. 

The most popular countries for this regional cuisine bracket would include France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal...all of which are known for spectacular wines and incredible wine pairings. After all, we all know to pair white wine with light pasta, and a red wine (or a red wine sangria) with paella. 

Though you might have to do a little bit of research to find out which pairing is the absolute best for your cuisine choice, it's possible to find a pairing for just about every kind of meal in the flavor profiles featured with Mediterranean cuisine. 

Many of the top contenders for food that pairs best with wine have Mediterranean roots — charcuterie boards, fine cheeses, seafood, and bread, for example, are all Mediterranean food staples. Since the staples work well, the more advanced dishes do, too. 

Since this is such a broad category with such a wide variety in flavors, it almost seems like it is unfair to call it number one. However, when you really think about it, it's definitely a deserved title. 

If you wanted to know what country's food pairs best with wine, just assume that anything from the Mediterranean region will work as the right answer. Why? Because it's a region that has cuisine that's been literally designed for wine pairings for thousands of years. 

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What Food Pairs Best With Wine?