Your Guide to Food and Wine Pairing

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Whether you’re out for a quick bite to eat with friends or experiencing fine dining in NH with a loved one, correct food and wine pairings are essential. With a long history as being an accompaniment to food, it was not until recent times that interest grew with proper pairing of these two elements. In fact, there are now thousands of publications with guidelines on how-to techniques. However, here at Piccola Italia, we know how valuable your time is, so we created this helpful little guideline to provide you the basics.


Weight does matter

One of the most essential elements in pairing food and wine concerns the “weight,” or the balance of the food to the body of the wine. For example, a red sauce parmesan meal would be considered heavy while a seafood dish light. However, wine is not as simple. Below is a brief overview of the weights of wine:

  • Light Whites – Wines with an alcohol content under 12.5% are typically considered light. Examples are: sparkling wines, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Champagne
  • Medium to Heavy Whites – Wines with an alcohol content between 12.5% and 13.% are considered to be medium-bodied while anything greater would be full-bodied. Examples may include: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and some Rosés.
  • Light Reds – Dolcetto and some Pinot Noir
  • Medium Reds – Chianti, Merlot, Malbec, Zinfandel
  • Heavy Reds – Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Port

Keep in mind, the higher the alcohol content, the heavier the wine will be.


Compliment and contrast

Now that you’ve considered the weight of your meal to your wine selection, it’s time to compliment and contrast. These are the two main strategies for comparing flavors and textures. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Red wines pair best with bold-flavored meat dishes
  • White wines pair best with fish and chicken
  • It’s better to pair your wine with a sauce versus the meat
  • The wine should be sweeter than the meal
  • The flavor intensity should be equal between the wine and the food

Common wines simplified

Below is a list of the most commonly ordered wines and the meals they pair best with:

  • Chardonnay: Best with full fish dishes or those with a heavy sauce, such as salmon.
  • Champagne: With their faint touch of sweetness, champagne and sparkling wines pair well with anything salty.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Perfect with red meats such as steak and lamb
  • Sauvignon Blanc: Perfect for tangy seafood dishes like scallops
  • Pinot Grigio: Another excellent choice for light seafood dishes
  • Malbec: As a medium red, pair this one with the sauce. For example, Malbec goes perfect with barbeque.
  • Zinfandel: Zinfandel pairs well with creamy sauces, pates, and mousse-like consistencies.

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Here at Piccola Italia, we take fine dining in NH to new levels with our at home atmosphere. If you’re not sure which wine will best suit your meal selection, we’re here to help. Make your reservation today and experience why we’ve been King of the Hill for decades!

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