mcguigan the shortlist bottle with food

A Guide to Food and Wine Pairing

It's hard to top the magic that happens when you're in excellent company enjoying fantastic food and sharing a delicious bottle of wine. This perfect combination has the power to transform a good night into an unforgettable one.

And guess what? You don't have to be a fancy sommelier or a renowned chef to make it happen. Anyone who loves food and wine can pull off a killer pairing.

To help you out, we’ve pulled together this handy guide to help you match the best wines with your favourite foods.

McGuigan wines with pasta salad and cheese

The Basics of Pairing Food and Wine

A truly sensational dish comes down to the perfect balance of flavours. The same principles apply when it comes to pairing wine with your meal.

However, there are two ways you can pair food and wines; by congruently pairing your food and wine or complementing them.

Congruent pairing

Congruent pairing is the art of matching food and wine with similar compounds or flavours. It's all about finding the perfect harmony between what's on your plate and what's in your glass.

Examples of delicious congruent pairings include a luscious sweet wine accompanied by a delectable dessert, an earthy Pinot Noir alongside a savoury mushroom dish, or the classic combination of a full-bodied and buttery Chardonnay served with a rich and creamy pasta dish.

The key to a congruent pairing is to find those shared elements and let them enhance each other, creating a cohesive and pleasurable dining experience.

Complementary pairing

Complementary pairings are when food and wine don't share similar compounds but still beautifully complement each other.

A classic example is pairing a juicy steak with a robust red wine that boasts tannins. Tannins, known for their astringent quality, work wonders in breaking down the richness of the meat and intensifying its flavours. But here's the magic: the fat in the steak acts as a tempering agent, softening the tannins and reducing that drying sensation in your mouth. As a result, the wine's fruity notes and other elements come to the forefront, leading to a more balanced and enjoyable experience on your palate.

Both congruent and complementary pairings can be excellent—it's all about the flavours you want to highlight and the experiences you want to evoke. Just ensure that the food or the wine don’t overpower each other. Enjoy the harmonious interplay of flavours and savour every sip and bite.

McGuigan Mastercraft Chardonnay with a charcuterie board containing cheese and crackers

Food and Wine Pairing Tips

What grows together, goes together.

It's conventional food and wine pairing wisdom that food and wine with the same providence will have flavours that marry together. Classic examples include a lovely Italian Prosecco paired with buffalo mozzarella or Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre in France paired with creamy Chèvre (goat's cheese). Similarly, Tempranillo, Spain's most famous red wine, is the perfect complement to a Tapas Dinner.


Try swapping your well-known wine for a similar grape

While it's tempting to stick with your tried-and-true favourite wines, a whole world of flavours is waiting to be discovered and explored. If you're a fan of the light, crisp, and dry profile of Sauvignon Blanc, give Pinot Grigio a try for an equally refreshing experience. And if you typically enjoy the richness and full-bodied character of Chardonnay, shake things up with a Semillon to add a twist to your palate. For those who fancy a light-bodied red like Pinot Noir, swap it for a Gamay, or opt for a Tempranillo or Montepulciano as an alternative to your usual medium-bodied Merlot.

Alternatively, you can embark on a non-alcoholic wine journey and pair your favourite wine varietal with a delicious meal, minus the booze. It's an exciting way to enjoy the flavours and nuances of your preferred wine without the alcohol content.


Tell a story with your pairing

Good dinner party stories can make or break your social gathering, as can the stories you tell with your food and wine pairing. You can transport yourself to the seaside when pairing a slightly briny Chablis and oysters, with the salt of the oysters making the wine sing. Or create a moody meal by mirroring the charred components of a dish with a deep, dark and rich Shiraz.

Whatever story you tell, good food and wine pairing can make you stop and imagine you are entirely on another continent.


Keep an almost universal pairing wine on hand

It’s always a good idea to have a wine up your sleeve which pairs with basically any food. McGuigan The Shortlist Riesling is one such wine. With its crisp palate and well-balanced green flavours, the lemon blossom and apple notes can balance spicy Thai food with its acidity and sweetness as easily as they can complement the delicacy of sashimi.

Have the perfect wine on hand to pair with your next delicious meal.

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