Food / Wine Matching

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Food and Wine Matching Guide

A lot of people fret about matching just the right food with the exact wine to complement it, but this tasty decision isn't really as tough as all that. It may help to keep in mind the simple reality that humans have been making wine to go with food for more than 5,000 years, and most wines go very nicely with most dishes. It's easy to go right, and hard to go wrong, as only a few combinations don't work well.

With the Food and Wine Matching Guide, you can make a good wine match with just about any food. Find the food of your choice in the list below, and click on it to learn more about matching wine with this food.

If you have a food matching question that isn't yet covered on this list, or if you'd like to suggest a favorite food-and-wine match for inclusion, please visit our WineLovers Discussion Group to ask your question.

Artichokes | Asparagus | Barbecue | Beef | Caviar | Cheeses | Chicken | Chinese food | Chocolate | Confit of duck or goose | Corned beef | Desserts | Duck | Duck breast | Eggs | Ethnic fare | Foie gras | General principles | Goose | Ham | Hot stuff! | Lamb | Liver | Lobster | Mushrooms | Pasta | Popcorn | Pork | Salads | Salmon | Sausages | Scallops | Shellfish | Surf and turf | Sushi | Turkey | Turtle soup | Veal | Vegetarian dishes | Venison


Custom warns wine lovers to give artichokes a wide berth, as they're allegedly "wine killers."

To work past this barricade, however, consider that the Italians love artichokes and they love wine, and they often serve artichokes before the meal because of the belief that artichokes make whatever follows taste sweet.

So start with a tart, crisp wine that's tilted to the acidic side, and chances are an artichoke dish will actually lean it toward balance. I've had good luck with Italian whites like Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Greco di Tufo, or even the sometimes rather bland Soave, Orvieto or Frascati. I'd think a crisp Loire Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé, would also make a happy match. "

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Asparagus's unique and distinctive flavor makes it an odd wine match, but when you consider the "match likes with likes" rule, the answer becomes clear: Choose a Sauvignon Blanc, perhaps a nice one from New Zealand in the herbaceous style.

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The smoke and spice and often-sweet sauces that make barbecue special aren't really friendly to your finest wines, which is why cold beer in longneck bottles or gigantic glasses of freshly brewed iced tea are called for when you're chowing down on barbecue.

If you want to bring your BBQ dinner uptown with a glass of wine, though, this is the time to turn to the simpler, fruity and quaffable wines: Zinfandel is a natural match, a quintessentially American wine with a traditional American food. Other good barbecue choices include Petite Sirah and Beaujolais, either the French original or the U.S. Gamay. As reader David Seidner notes below, Australian Shiraz (or Grenache) is another outstanding barbecue wine.

Additions from readers:

My favorite: a young overly fruity (almost sweet tasting) Aussie shiraz. The Rosemount Diamond label is my "house" b-b-q drink, but I've had others with equally pleasing results. — David Seidner

Chianti classico often makes an excellent match and is de rigueur with Il Fiorentina (T-bone steak rubbed with crushed black pepper, grilled and brushed with olive oil). Like the big, fruity reds you others mention, Argentine malbec and tannat and California mourvedre (aka mataro) suit barbecued beef and pork to a T. Tempranillo-based wines, such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero, are traditional with grilled lamb chops. Bandol is a treat with simply grilled meats, including white meats like rabbit. And substantial dry rosés work nicely with barbecued chicken, hot and cold. — Craig Schweickert

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Roast beef and steaks call for a dry, tannic red wine: Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots; Rhones or Syrah/Shiraz; and Northern Italian reds from Piemonte (Barolo, Barbaresco) to Tuscany (Chianti, Brunello)."

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The Russians love to chase this luxury item with a shot of ice-cold vodka, but for me, the wine choice is clear: Champagne, the finer the better.

This works not only because it's simply indulgent, one of the world's most pricey foods with a high-end wine; moreover, Champagne's tiny bubbles evoke a textural comparison with the grainy nature of fine caviar ... and the crisp, tart nature of Champagne nicely balances the salty fishiness of the caviar.

Additions from readers:

Vodka that's been stored overnight in the freezer is my preference, and flavoured vodkas work wonderfully. If you go the bubbly route, consider seeking out a bottle of bone-dry champagne, marketed under names like ultra-brut, brut sauvage and brut intégral. — Craig Schweickert

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When I'm in the mood for a serious session of analytical wine-and-cheese tasting, I like to have a good array of cheeses and a selection of wines, tasting across the lines to compare and contrast the different ways they go together. But generally speaking, I'd propose the following broad categories for seeking the ideal marriage between a specific wine and a particular cheese:

Cheddars and similar sharp "English" cheeses: Dry reds, Cabernet Sauvignon or better Merlots.

Swiss, Gruyere, and the equivalent: Pinot Noir.

Blue cheeses: Sauternes (or other sweet, fine dessert wines) is traditional, but these also work nicely with dry reds, and surprisingly so with very dry (Fino) Sherries. Be careful about tannic reds like Cabernets, though, which sometimes get a funny metallic taste with blue cheese.

Ripe, creamy cheeses like Camembert and Brie: Rich, buttery Chardonnay. Or for a change of pace, try them with Champagne.

Hard cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, Romano, etc.: This is probably kind of a cliche, but I really do like them with dry Italian reds, from Chianti to Barolo. Or try a chunk of really fresh Reggiano with a heavy Amarone.

Additions from readers:

Probably the most contentious area of food-and-wine matching. Here are two more:

Goat's milk cheese with sauvignon blanc, especially from the Loire, and Port with many cheeses, especially Stilton. — Craig Schweickert

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One of the most obvious exceptions to the traditional rule about "red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat" is roast chicken, indisputably a "white meat" but one that, in my opinion, works just as well and perhaps even better with red wine than white.

Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot), Burgundy (Pinot Noir), Beaujolais and Dolcetto, fruity Zinfandel ... all match well with this versatile bird; but so do Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Riesling.

With other chicken dishes, consider the sauce and the preparation as keys to the match: Light chicken-breast sautees or cream sauces may tilt the equation toward a white. Tomatoey, cheesy entrees like chicken cacciatore and its kin call for a dry red, perhaps an Italian (Chianti, Bardolino, Valpolicella) to make an ethnic match.

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Chinese food

As in our comments on ethnic fare in general, Chinese food can be tricky to match with wine for two reasons: It's a cuisine that evolved in a society that didn't cherish wine, so it wasn't invented with wine in mind; and its wide variety of meats, seafood and vegetables on a single table – along with some exotic spice flavors – make it tough to come up with a single match.

The conventional wisdom dismisses all Asian foods with a single wine choice: Gewurztraminer. Gewurz will work, but despite tradition, it's not so much because Gerwurz is "spicy" – in fact, it's not – this is folklore based on the fact that "Gewurz" means "spicy" in German – but because it's rich and usually slightly sweet. For similar reasons, don't overlook Riesling, particularly the German style, with your Chinese menu.

Finally, if you're careful about selecting wines to match single Chinese specialties rather than trying to make one bottle fit every dish on the table, you'll find that most dry European-style table wines do work. Pinot Noir with Peking Duck, Cabernet with stir-fry beef dishes (if they're not too hot), rich Chardonnay with Lobster Cantonese and so on down Columns A and B.

For an old but still valuable report on a large Cantonese banquet and the array of wines that one group of wine fanciers chose to match it, see our report on Chinese Food and Wine.

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The traditional companion is Banyuls, a sweet red vin doux naturel from the French Pyrenees. Dark-chocolate desserts also work well with framboise (raspberry liquor) and sweet fruit wines, and some people – but not me – like chocolate with an herbaceous-style California Cabernet Sauvignon.

Additions from readers:

Vibrant muscats, such as St. Jean de Minervois or California Orange Muscat, can pair nicely with chocolate, especially orange and chocolate combinations, provided the dish isn't cloyingly sweet. Tawny Port can also hold its own. — Craig Schweickert

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Confit of duck or goose

Additions from readers:

A savoury dish that requires a savoury wine. Serve a tannic young red from southwest France (St. Émilion, cru Bourgeois Bordeaux, Madiran, Cahors) or the New World (petite syrah, Rhone-inspired blend) to counterpoint the richness or a rich white (Alsatian tokay-pinot gris) to echo it. — Craig Schweickert

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Corned beef

The challenge here is similar to that of matching wine with ham: Corned beef is a strong-flavored meat and very salty. For me, this calls for something fresh and fruity and not piercingly dry: A Beaujolais or Dolcetto, if you want a red, or something on the richer side, maybe an Alsatian white or Loire Chenin Blanc if you prefer a white. To test this theory, I made corned beef and cabbage by a traditional method, simmering a store-bought "corned" brisket for hours and adding cabbage wedges and potatoes toward the end of cooking, and serving it all with mustard and horseradish on the side. An Alsatian Pinot Gris with a bit of sweetness in its full-bodied flavor worked just fine.

While you're in an Irish mood, check out this fun, non-commercial Irish music site:

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Sweet wines are generally better sipped by themselves and not with food. There are a few traditional sweet wine matches, including foie gras with Sauternes and other great dessert wines; Stilton (or other fine blue cheese) and walnuts with Port; and a creamy, not-too-sweet creme brulèe with a fine dessert wine. Banyuls, the naturally strong and sweet red wine of the French Pyrenees, makes a great (and exceptional) match with dark chocolate desserts, and for still more ideas, see the Additions from Readers below.

But most sweet dishes seem to throw dessert wines out of balance and accentuate their acidity rather than their sugar. It's best to have your dessert wine be the dessert rather than serving it with dessert: Hold the dessert wine for contemplative sipping after the meal has ended.

Additions from readers:

Sweet fruit wines, such as Southbrook or Bonny Doon Framboise, make an excellent match with chocolate-based desserts. And of course, there's Pedro Ximinez sherry (or framboise) served over ice cream. — Ted Richards

New World late-harvest rieslings can be wonderful with baked apple desserts like tarte Tatin. If you must serve a dessert with your Sauternes, try langue de chat cookies or a classic crème brulèe. — Craig Schweickert

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I love duck and goose and find that their dark, rich meat makes an ideal foil for a variety of hearty wines. If you're looking for a red, Pinot Noir is a natural, but Rhones and Northeastern Italian reds also work well, especially with a bit of age.

Rich, slightly sweet whites also sing a pretty tune with duck or goose – try very good Vouvray (demisec or moelleux), Alsatian Gewurztraminer or just about any good Riesling.

Additions from readers:

Aged California cabernet sauvignon is one of my favourite pairings for simply roasted duck; Côte-Rôtie is wonderful when citrus (lime, grapefruit) and herb (tarragon, thyme) flavours are involved. Châteauneuf-du-Pape marries well with Chinese spices like star anise, five-spice powder and hoisin sauce. If serving duck with a sweetish, fruit-based sauce (oranges, peaches), consider opening a semisweet wine like a young Sauternes. — Craig Schweickert

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Duck breast

Additions from readers:

Sautéed/grilled duck breast was originally a specialty of southwest France, the home of foie gras. Not surprisingly, the red wines from that area (Médoc, Pomerol, Madiran, Corbières, etc.) are the classic pairing. Nowadays, choice is determined by the sauce, though a structured, medium-to-full-bodied red is usually best. California cabernet sauvignon can make a stunning match, especially with grilled breast. — Craig Schweickert

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Not an easy match; egg flavors clash oddly with many wines. I've had success matching omelets with crisp, dry rosés and sparkling wines.

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Ethnic fare

To make a long story very simple and short, I enjoy matching the food of a country with the wine of a country, picking Italian vino with Italian cocina, French vin with French cuisine and ... well, you get the idea. It makes simple sense that the people of wine-making countries evolve their foods and wines to go well together, so why second-guess tradition?

But what about foods from countries that don't make wine? In my experience, dry table wines in the European and American tradition go surprisingly well with non-Occidental foods, subject to the limits imposed by hot-and-spicy fare.

Simply focus on a wine to match the primary meat, poultry or seafood ingredient, then consider whether the sauce or accompaniments would alter the equation.

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Foie gras

For the classic foie gras, however, break out your best Burgundy, red or white, or go for the ultimate luxury pair, foie gras with a rich, toothache-sweet Sauternes.

Additions from readers:

I often find the pairing of Sauternes and foie gras to be cloying – rich on rich, as it were. These days, I save the Sauternes for dessert and with the foie gras open other sweet and semisweet wines with more savoury flavours and/or higher acidity. Memorable pairings have included sweet Parcherenc du Vic-Bihl (Madiran's white); a Condrieu doux; a late-harvest Gaillac; several Coteaux du Layon; Alsatian late-harvest and SGN gewurztraminers, pinot gris and rieslings; a Tokay Aszu; and an Ontario vidal icewine. One advantage of many of these wines is that they are half or even a quarter the price of a good Sauternes. While I've never tried it, Hugh Johnson says "old dry amontillado can be sublime." — Craig Schweickert

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General principles

Rule I – Red Wine with Red Meat, White Wine With White
Perhaps surprisingly, the old saying "red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat," works quite well as a general principle. A powerful, tannic red wine would simply overwhelm delicate white fish, for instance, while a light, ethereal white like a fresh Viognier would seem mighty wimpy alongside a joint of rare roast beef.

Rule II – Don't Sweat the Exceptions
Yes, there are exceptions to the "Red with Red" rule, but they're tasty exceptions. Although roast chicken counts as a "white meat," for instance, it goes very well indeed with a fruity red. So do salmon and fresh tuna, shattering the notion that you should never serve red wine with fish.

Rule III – The Rule of Complements: Match Likes with Likes
Newer in principle than the ancient "red with red" story. There's nothing more impolite than the wine "snob" who insists that only his answers are right. Try the standard rules first, but if you decide that you want a Chardonnay with your steak, it's certainly your privilege, and you shouldn't be ashamed to exercise it.

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I love duck and goose and find that their dark, rich meat makes an ideal foil for a variety of hearty wines. If you're looking for a red, Pinot Noir is a natural, but Rhones and Northwestern Italian reds also work well, especially with a bit of age.Rich, slightly sweet whites also sing a pretty tune with duck or goose – try very good Vouvray (demisec or moelleux), Alsatian Gewurztraminer or just about any good Riesling.

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Ham is challenging cause it's so salty and strong-flavored. My choices are fruity, quenching wines: A Beaujolais, a Zinfandel or a lighter-styled Pinot Noir if you want a red; a Chenin Blanc or Riesling if you're in the mood for a white. Or, if you like the style, think of ham with pineapple and select an oaky New World Chardonnay redolent of tropical fruit.

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Hot stuff!

In all honesty, I don't think wine makes a very good accompaniment for curries, Thai food and other hot-and-spicy dishes. The alcohol wines interacts with the otherwise pleasant fire of curries to create a burning sensation that I find unpleasant.

Accordingly, I quite frankly recommend forgoing wine with food of this type, choosing instead either a good beer or, as the people of those cultures do, cold drinks, often dairy-based, such as the Indian yoghurt lassi or the sweet, cream-topped Thai iced coffee.

If you're absolutely set on wine with fiery fare, then I'd suggest choosing a modest sparkling wine. The carbonation seems to work reasonably well to ameliorate spicy heat, and Champagne-type wines go well with foods of all sorts. As a final alternative, if you must have a still table wine, choose one that's fruity and not overly tannic or acidic: A Beaujolais, for example, or an American Zinfandel or Australian Shiraz. But don't say I didn't warn you!

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Lamb is a classic match with red Bordeaux to the extent that the local flag of the commune Pauillac carries a picture of a sheep!

So Bordeaux is my first choice, especially when the lamb is cooked with rosemary and other herbs to match the natural herbaceous quality of the wine. But just about any dry red is fine, including Burgundies, Rhones, New World Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah/Shiraz, and Northern Italian reds.

Additions from readers:

Fine Spanish reds, including those from Rioja and Ribera del Duero, deserve to be added to your list. — Craig Schweickert

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I'd suggest a hearty red Rhone or Pinot Noir with beef or calf liver. For the classic foie gras, however, break out your best Burgundy, red or white, or go for the ultimate luxury pair, foie gras with a rich, toothache-sweet Sauternes.

Additions from readers:

Unoaky, light-to-medium-bodied Italian reds are ideal with many preparations: Taurasi, Chianti Classico, Friulian merlot, cabernet franc or schioppettino, etc. — Craig Schweickert

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Try a big Chardonnay with lobster and you'll find that it works as well as drawn butter with this rich, sweet delicacy.

Additions from readers:

While Chardonnay is the safest bet with most lobster preparations, Condrieu and Champagne accompany lobster salads to perfection. — Craig Schweickert

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Just about any version of the lovable fungus, but especially the stronger-flavored wild mushrooms, from porcini to shiitakes to morels, find their natural partner in red Burgundies and other Pinot Noirs.

Additions from readers:

Barolos, particularly traditional-styled ones, go very well with mushrooms, particularly truffles. — Ted Richards

Portabellos and Cabernet, especially grilled portabellos. Cab should have a couple years on it, but a just released Cab works too. — Jeff Cuppett

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It all depends on what you're putting on the pasta!

If it's a traditional Southern Italian dish with a tangy red tomato sauce, then you can't beat the dry Italian red wines – Chianti, of course, but also Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Salice Salentino and many more.

If it's a cheese sauce like Fettuccine Alfredo, consider Chardonnay.

And if it's a seafood sauce without tomatoes, a dry, crisp white should be your choice – Sauvignon Blanc (Fumè Blanc), or a fruity Italian white like Vernaccia, Orvieto, Soave, Frascati and many more.

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Not usually a food thought of as a partner with wine, but popcorn (buttered or plain) makes a surprisingly tasty match with sparkling wine, from a modest bubbly right up to genuine Champagne.

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Richer whites, like most Chardonnays and Pinot Blanc, go well with lighter meats like pork (as well as chicken and veal). A rich White Burgundy (Chardonnay) makes a natural match, or an Alsatian Riesling or Gewurztraminer; but a light red like Beaujolais or even a lighter-styled Pinot Noir is also fine.

Additions from readers:

I'd only open a chard with a pork dish if I used it in cooking or an Alsatian/German white for dishes from those regions or certain fusion dishes. Pork in any form usually has me reaching for a medium-to-full bodied red, such as a Pomerol, St-Émilion, sangiovese or zinfandel (especially the last when prunes are involved). — Craig Schweickert

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Vinegar is the natural enemy of wine, so it's wise to push back your wine glass when you're digging into the salad bowl, unless you've selected a salad topped with chicken or seafood or dressed with something less acidic than vinegar. A Caesar salad, for instance, is far more amiable to wine than a tart vinaigrette. Salade NiƁoise? Try a dry Provence rosè!

Appetizers, on the other hand, may run the entire gamut. Consider the primary ingredient of the appetizers and apply the general principles that you'd use with an entree: Sauvignon blanc with shrimp cocktail, for example, or Pinot Noir with smoked salmon or rumaki (chicken livers and water chestnuts wrapped with bacon).

Or go the festive route and accompany your starter course with Champagne!

Additions from readers:

Salads dressed with olive oil and a little lemon juice will not destroy most dry white wines, though the pairing will never be one to write home about. If you want to serve a salad with a red wine, substitute the same wine for the vinegar in the dressing. If serving a salad alongside a meat dish such as roast fowl or lamb, dress it with some of the sauce or the degreased pan and cutting juices. — Craig Schweickert

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Pinot noir makes a wonderful match, countering the conventional wisdom that white wines should accompany fish. If you insist on a white, try Pinot Gris; Oregon Pinot Gris and Pacific Northwest salmon make a particularly impressive pair.

Additions from readers:

Pinot noir is classic but the combination of a fine white (riesling, white Burgundy, Condrieu) with salmon subtly prepared (poached or in papillotes, for example) or in a cream sauce can be enthralling. Understated, top-flight rosés are also worthy partners, though not with cream sauces. — Craig Schweickert

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The match varies according to the sausage, as there's a wide gulf between, say, a veal boudin or bratwurst, an Italian pork sausage laced with fennel, and a black German blutwurst, to name just a few.

Generally speaking, though, I advise (1) matching colors, (2) consider the more earthy wines, and (3) look for the ethnic match.

Among the examples above, then, try a drier Vouvray or a good Riesling with the veal sausages, a Chianti with the pork sausages, and a red Rhone along the lines of Gigondas or Vayqueras with dark, earthy sausages. This is an area where experimentation can be fun.

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Additions from readers:

Hermitage blanc is the classic French match with grilled or fried scallops. Zippy chardonnays (Grand cru Chablis), rieslings (German Kabinett, Pacific Northwest), Austrian grüner vertliners, Spanish Rias Baixas and Portugese white Vinho verde are more affordable alternatives. Scallops in cream sauces require richer whites, such as top-drawer Graves and Burgundies, New World chardonnays or German Ausleses and Spätleses. — Craig Schweickert

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Sancerre and Muscadet from the Loire are exceptionally suited to oysters, perhaps because shellfish are an important part of the local cuisine and the wine evolved to match.

Shrimp work well with crisp whites like White Bordeaux (and Sauvignon Blanc in general) or with leaner Chardonnays like Chablis.

Pick a fatter, buttery Chardonnay to match lobster, and a slightly sweet white – Riesling might be ideal – to quaff with crab.

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Surf and turf

This classic luxury dinner poses a dilemma because surf (lobster) really works best with a rich white like a big Chardonnay, while turf (beef) calls out for a dry red like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

About all you can do is decide which wine you like best and accept that it's not going to go as well with half of the main entree; or if the event is festive and you're having a crowd, say the heck with it and serve both!

You can also go with a very good Champagne or other sparkling wine, which would be great with lobster and fairly good with the beef, but it's still pretty hard for me to imagine enjoying a really good steak without a fine red wine.

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Many thanks to Bruce Gutlove for this useful essay on sushi and wine. It was first published on the Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, and is reprinted here with his permission.

Sushi is a generic category of food, signifying anything placed on sushi rice. As a for instance, there's a certain region of Japan where I often go on business that specializes in horse meat sushi. An appropriate wine for this dish (still searching) would be very different than that which would go with scallop sushi.

In general, some good matches are as follows:

With lighter-bodied, white-fleshed fish (eg. hirame or sole) I'd choose a light white with both acidity and (slight) sweetness. Examples are: drier (but not "trocken") German wines in Kabinett and Spatlese class, un-oaked Petit Chablis, good Muscadet, and drier Chenin Blanc like Marc Bredif's dry old vines Vouvray.

With richer/sweeter white-fleshed fish or shellfish (eg. hotate or scallop) I'd opt for something a good bit fuller and grander. Good choices include: good Champagne, Premier Cru or Grand Cru Chablis, or aged Aussie Semillon. Oak tends to clash with some of the elements in sushi, though, so I'd leave the Lafon and almost all Calif Chards at home.

With real "fishy" stuff (what the Japanese call hikarimono, including mackerel, sardine, etc) I'd go for something herbal and assertive like an SB from NZ or the Loire. A drier, un-oaked Rias Baixas can also work.

With red-fleshed fish (eg. maguro tuna) I'd go for a lighter red with a bit of acidity but without too much tannin. Choices here include New World Pinot and Cotes de Beaune reds, lighter Gamay and Dolcetto, etc. Stay away from anything too "grapey" or heavy (resist the temptation to bring along that bottle of Chambertin) as the fruit of the wine will overwhelm the fish.

The above is built on the assumption that the sushi will be "properly" prepared, meaning: (1) Sushi rice is neither sweet nor sour. (2) Use of wasabi is kept to a minimum, and fresh-ground root is used. (3) The sushi neta (the topping) is impecably fresh.

If your sushi chef detours from these principles then you might do better with beer or sake.

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Perhaps surprisingly, the traditional holiday bird, turkey, makes a somewhat challenging wine match because it has both light and dark meat, and what's more, its meat has an oily quality that's not always friendly to dry wines.I call my solution "the cranberry sauce principle." Cranberry sauce goes well with turkey because it's both fruity and tart; so choose a wine with similar characteristics — Beaujolais or Zinfandel if you want a red, or Riesling, Gewurztraminer or Chenin Blanc if you're inclined to a white.And if you happen to like the Nouveau Beaujolais that comes into season just days before Thanksgiving time, it makes a decent match, too!"

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Turtle soup

The classic match is Sherry, an Amontillado or dry Oloroso."

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If the veal is young and white, stay with rich white wines, White Burgundy (Chardonnay), Austrian Grüner Veltliners or German Rieslings. Heavier veal dishes will take a fruity red, from Chianti to Pinot Noir to lighter Zinfandels.

Additions from readers:

Many French cookbooks recommend Graves with veal chops, not without reason. Simply prepared veal roast is perhaps the best neutral background for aged whites and reds. — Craig Schweickert

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Vegetarian dishes

Frankly, it's hard to be a serious wine lover and shun meat. The joy of a perfect match between a fine red wine and a rare steak or juicy leg of lamb, the delicious marriage between a first-rate white and a fresh fillet of fish ... these things are simply too good to give up lightly. But now and then, to cut down fat consumption and for a change of pace, most of us will at least occasionally choose a meatless dinner.

Vegetarian entrees are a little harder to match with wine, but as a "red with red" kind of generalization, try matching red wines with heartier fare like bean dishes, enchiladas, etc., while reserving the lighter whites for dishes based on green vegetables.

For more detailed information on wine and vegetarian fare, see my online article, Red Wine and Beans.

Additions from readers:

The more flavourful mushrooms (portabellos, cepes, etc.) are worthy accompaniments to the finest red and white wines (or is it the other way around?). — Craig Schweickert

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Hearty, "gamey" reds are perfect with venison and similar hoofed game: Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Hermitage and other top Rhones; Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara and similar Nebbiolo-based Northwestern Italian reds are my wines of choice."