Wine with dinner is a staple, but the reality is that some wines pair better with certain meats and dishes than others. This is due to the different elements of wine (undertones, tannins, bitterness, dryness, body, etc.) that can either take away or enhance the flavour of your meal.
If you’re looking for new wine and food pairings to try, a fun experiment would be ordering a wine subscription and meat delivery subscription service to see what you personally find pairs best together. It’s worth a shot!
If you’re a little less experimental, consider what professionals deem to be the optimal wine and meat matches:
Steak: Red (California Cabernet Sauvignon & Rioja)
Most wine connoisseurs will suggest a California cabernet sauvignon with your steak because it is full-bodied and equally rich.
If you don’t want to spend the extra money on a cabernet (as they can be a little steep), Kitchn also suggests pairing your steak with Rioja. This wine sells for under $20 a bottle and has the same fruity undertones and tannin content as a California cabernet sauvignon.
Burgers: Red (Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel) & White (Oaked Chardonnay)
The reality is that there’s quite a range of wines you can pair with burgers dependant on how you like your beef cooked and the toppings you prefer.
Specifically, however, the fat content of your burger will be the leading factor to take into consideration when choosing what wine to break out for a BBQ.
Turkey burgers and veggie burgers have a lower fat content, so pair best with lighter wines. Beef burgers, on the other hand, are better matched with a Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. These two reds have the tannins and structure needed to pair well with beef.
If white wine is more your speed, an oaked chardonnay that is not too sweet will also pair well with beef burgers.
Pork: High Acidity Red & White Wine
Pork is known to be a lighter type of meat — it is rich, but not quite as decadent as steak.
Due to this, it is best paired with a wine that’s high in acidity. The good news is that this meat goes with both white and red wines — including their halfway point, rose.
White wine drinkers will want to go for Riesling and Chenin Blanc white wine, whereas red wine drinkers will want to stray away from fruitier wines and go with the dryer Gamay and Cabernet Franc.
Chicken: Endless Options
According to WIneSpectrum, chicken actually pairs well with a variety of wines. This is because chicken itself is flexible; it has white and dark meat and can be seasoned in many different ways.
When considering what wine to pair your chicken with, it’s less about the bird and more about the sauce or marinade you’ve cooked it with. For example, where a chicken in a cream sauce will go well with a pinot grigio, grilled BBQ chicken will pair better with a zinfandel sauvignon blanc.
Duck: Medium Bodied Red (Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, or Malbec)
Duck tends to be rich, fatty and flavourful, which is why it’s best paired with a wine with high acidity. The acidity in the wine will add some sharpness to the taste and cut the richness of the meat. Pinot Noir is a classic light red wine that always compliments any duck-centric meal.
Lamb: Delicate Red (Spanish Rioja, California Zinfandel, and Merlot)
Because lamb has a more delicate flavour than other types of meat, it is best paired with a lighter red wine that will enhance the meat’s flavour instead of adding bitterness.