A Beginner's Guide To Wine Pairings

Sunrise Senior Living  |  March 19, 2015

There's nothing quite like a home-cooked meal paired with a great glass of wine. In fact, libations can really make or break a meal, which is why so many restaurants pay wine experts to create pairings for each entree. However, you don't have to be a sommelier to pick the best wine to complement your dinner. Here are some tips that will help you pick the perfect bottle of vino and impress your friends at the retirement community.

Pairings based on sauce
One of the easiest ways to pick a wine that will complement your meal is to base the pairing on the main ingredients of the dish. Food & Wine magazine explained that if your dinner includes some type of sauce, it's easy to identify the perfect wine. 

For example, a light cream- or oil-based sauce would go well with a white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris. Marinara sauces, on the other hand, go well with acidic red wines like Merlot, Sangiovese or Zinfandel. If you're serving an Asian-inspired dish with some type of peanut-based sauce, choose an off-dry Riesling to accompany the meal. 

Garlic aioli
Another easy sauce to pair is aioli. Whip up a batch of this quick and easy garlic dip and serve it with crackers and a bottle of rosé wine. Food & Wine magazine noted that the light, fresh flavors of the wine will enhance the flavors of the dip. 


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. You may add more or less garlic to suit your tastes. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. 

Pairings based on entree
You can also base wine pairings on what type of dish you're serving. It only makes sense that red meats and vegetarian dishes will go well with different drinks, so familiarize yourself with which entrees match up with certain wines. 

Coastal Living magazine recommended pairing steak dishes with Cabernet Sauvignon and lamb-based entrees with a Bordeaux. 

If you're serving seafood, the best wine depends on what kind of fish is in the dish. Most white varieties like cod or haddock go well with Chardonnay or Viognier, while sushi will be best complemented by a sparkling wine.