How to Pair Wine with Food

       The old rule of red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat is so restrictive and there is really no reason to follow it. The whole idea of pairing wine with food is for the two to compliment one another.
       Great wine always compliments great food so don’t be afraid to throw all the guidelines out the window and experiment with what wine and food you think pair well together. As always, you will never go wrong by drinking the wine you love, because if you love it, it’s more than likely that your guests will love it as well.
       The following food wine pairing charts are by no means comprehensive, there are just so many great pairings! Think of them more as a jumping off point to help you plan your wine and food menu for your next get together.

The Reds

Consider the following match ups for red wines:

Red VarietalAppetizersMain CourseDessert
Cabernet Sauvignon Sharp or smokey cheeses, beef taquitos, fried mushrooms.Beef, duck, lamb or venison. Dark and bittersweet chocolate
MerlotAntipasto, aged cheeses. Veal, Italian sausage, salmon, tuna, eggplant Raspberry, cherry or other dark berry desserts
ZinfandelSeared Ahi tuna, spicy chicken or beef tenders Barbeque, tomato sauce, spicy sausage, duck and beefDark berry desserts, carrot cake
MalbecCreamy cheeses, roasted vegetables. Beef, veal, turkey w/dressing, lamb, chili Berry tart, milk chocolate cake, crème brulee
SyrahBruschetta, stuffed mushrooms, tampenade. Ham, lamb, pasta with tomato sauce, pizza, barbeque Cherry pie, chocolate mousse

The Whites

Here are some pairing suggestions for white wines:

White VarietalAppetizersMain CourseDessert
ChardonnayScallops, mild cheeses, and bruschettaChicken, cream based sauces, pork and seafood Cheesecake, light fruit
Sauvignon BlancOysters, crab cakes, mushrooms, artichoke dipSea bass, lobster, chicken, shrimp, troutSorbet, key lime pie, lemon meringue pie
Pinot GrisChicken quesadillas, ahi tuna tartare, antipastoRisotto, grilled chicken, lobster, white sauces, crabPetit fours, apple tart
RieslingCalamari, steamed clams, creamy chessesRoasted chicken, grilled pork, baked ham Light cakes, cream based pie, baked apples

Drink the Wine You Love!

First Rule: Always drink what you like!
Second Rule: Try and not let the wine overwhelm the food or vice- versa. Allow the subtle flavor and aromatic nuances of the wine to enhance the food and the overall dining experience.

Counting Calories?
How many calories are in a glass of wine? Of course that varies depending on the vintner and the type or class of wine, but a good average is around 80-100 calories per four-ounce glass.

Sulfites and Headaches: Myth Busting

Most wines contain sulfites, except for ones that are specifically labeled “sulfite free.” Yeast, used in the production of wine, naturally produces sulfites during the fermentation process. Winemakers also add sulfites to wine to prevent microorganisms from growing.
Sulfites may also be found in baked goods, soup mixes, jams, molasses, grape juice, pickled foods, bottled lemon and lime juice, sea foods, maraschino cherries, and dried fruit. If you’re concerned about sulfites in your foods, check the package for these ingredients: sulfur dioxide, sodium sulfite, sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, or potassium metabisulfite.

In short, sulfites in wine have been researched extensively — and the resounding conclusion is that sulfites in either red or white wine do not cause headaches.

About 20 years ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined that about 1% of the population is allergic to sulfites and required that wines containing certain levels of the compound be labeled “contains sulfites.” Many people have assumed, incorrectly, that the labeling is designed to warn people who get a red wine headache. In fact, sulfite sensitivity is a true allergy. Sufferers experience an allergic reaction, but not a headache.

Many people may be sensitive to histamines. These are naturally produced chemicals, and are in wines. Histamines are more concentrated in red wines than whites, so you might try switching to whites.

Some experts say that the tannins in the red wine are at the root of the headaches. Tannins are the flavonoids in wine and are also present in chocolate and tea because of their coloring effect. Again though, no direct connection in causing headaches.

Is there Relief?
Some people report that taking an anti-drowsy antihistamine before drinking red wine helps to prevent the headaches, and does not cause drowsiness. Another possibility is taking an aspirin. Personally I am fond of enteric coated aspirins because they do not bother my stomach. However, I’m not a physician and this should not be construed as medical advice.

Yet for most people who suffer from red wine headaches, the theories are irrelevant. They want to know what to do about the problem. And don’t confuse wine headaches with the headache that comes after a full evening of drinking. That’s called a hangover. The solution is to try to find a wine that doesn’t cause you a headache and stick to it. If the wine is going to affect you, it will probably do so in about 15 minutes.