A Simple Guide to Wine Pairing

2018-08-11T21:15:37-05:00August 12th, 2018|Wine|0 Comments

Author: Ellerman House

There are two types of people in the world: those who pair their food with their wine, and those who don’t. It doesn’t matter which side you fall on, there are some dishes that remain a challenge. Our Sommelier assist guests when pairing their meals with the perfect bottle of South African wine. We created a simple guide to wine pairing for those who want to enjoy a meal with friends or family.

Pairing your wine with the correct dish will enhance your dining experience. The main concept behind this is that certain elements, such as textures and flavours in food and wine react differently with each other. Finding the right combinations of these elements will make the entire dining experience more enjoyable. Food and wine pairings take in consideration the following elements: fat, tannins, salt, sugar, and texture. When these elements are paired correctly they can compliment and enhance any meal.


Food containing a high element of fat, such as red meat or dairy, needs an acid element (tannins) to match the richness. A red wine such as Cabernet or Shiraz, with undertones of berries and fruit will compliment the smoky and meaty flavours of the meat.

Acid is another element in food and wine that play a vital role when pairing the two. A wine with a well-balanced acidity will add freshness to food. When looking for a wine to pair with an acidic dish it is important to remember that the observed acid levels of the wine need to at least match those of the dish. Imaging a fresh piece of fish with a tangy lemon sauce when thinking of a dish with high acidity. A medium to heavy bodied white wine will pair perfectly.


The trickiest of the elements is salt. It will limit your choices of wine as it will strip the fruit out of red wines and can make mature wine taste bitter. The go to wine for salty or fried food usually is Champagne. The bubbles will clear the palate of saltiness and add other flavours and textures. Think of oysters and Champagne or tempura prawn and Champagne.

When it comes to dessert there is one golden rule: there are degrees of sweetness that needs to be kept in mind at all times. You must be certain that the wine tastes sweeter than the dessert otherwise you have a chance of stripping the wine of its sweetness leaving a bitter taste. Recipes that require a little amount of sugar, a fruit sauce served with pork loin, can be paired perfectly with a higher alcohol wine like a Chardonnay. Wines that contain a higher alcohol level tend to give the impression of sweetness.

When it comes to matching textures, think alike. Light food is best paired with a light wine and vise versa. An aged red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon will pair perfectly with a heavy meat dish such as slow roasted fillet; an unwooded chardonnay will compliment a piece of fresh fish.

This simple guide is to be used as a guideline and it is important to remember that at the end of the day the most important rule is to trust your own nose and palate.

Ellerman House Wine Gallery

Below we have a guide on the different weights of wine which will give you some guidance in choosing the right wine to accompany your food.


Méthode Cap Classique, Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chablis.


Oaked Sauvignon Blanc, White blends, Viognier, Roussanne, New World Chardonnay.


Riesling, Muscat de Frontignan, Bukettraube, Gewürztraminer.


Noble Late Harvest, Muscadel, Fortified wines.


Dolcetto, Rosé, certain Pinot Noir.


Chianti, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Zinfandel, Pontac, Carignan, certain Pinot Noir.


Syrah, Pinotage, Petit Verdot, Red blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Port.


Sources: Winemag, Saronsberg, Ellerman House Sommelier

Article Source: http://www.ellerman.co.za/blog/a-simple-guide-to-wine-pairing/