Knowing how to pair your wine with the food that you’re eating may seem like a confusing and daunting task, but there are just a few tricks you need to learn, and pretty soon you will be pairing like a pro. If you are wondering what wine goes with dinner tonight, follow these simple steps! This blog, entitled Six Rules for Perfect Pairing, goes into much more details, but it really can boil down to six very easy to remember rules.

Whether you’re enjoying a few steaks or chicken off the grill on a balmy summer evening, you’re serving up a hot stew that’s been roasting in the slow cooker all winter’s day, or you’re just ordering pizza from the neighborhood parlor, the simple and easy to follow wine rules below will help you know which wine is going to bring out the flavors of your food best, and which foods are going to complement your wine in turn.

First Thing’s First: Learn Basic Wine Pairing!


Read More in Depth Here >> The Six Rules of Perfect Wine Pairing


Rule 1: Match the richness of the food to the body of the wine.

Rule 2: Match the acidity.

Rule 3: Don’t let the food overpower the wine, or the wine overpower the food.

Rule 4: Offset heat (spicy) with sweet.

Rule 5: Serve your wine at the right temperature.

Rule 6: Match the regional cuisine to the regional wine.


You’re Ready To Pair!

Here’s a helpful list of recommendations and suggestions to get you started. Here at GiftTree, we got together with our in-house Sommelier to get recommendations on wine pairing by cuisine.


Which Wine Goes With Dinner Tonight? 


Chinese Cuisine

Few simple pleasures in life are as comforting as Chinese take-out. And when it comes to wine pairing, here is an opportunity to really knock it out of the park. Chinese food varies a lot between meat or no meat, spicy or mild, fatty or light. Remember the rule above – pair heavy with heavy, light with light. So if you are having a dish that is on the heavier side, such as broccoli beef or sesame chicken, opt for a richer, fuller-bodied wine such as Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon. For lighter, mild dishes, say, vegetable lo mein or shrimp fried rice, try a light-bodied white. Since these dishes aren’t spicy, it can be on the dry side!

For Heavier Chinese Dishes, ex. Moo Shu Pork, Broccoli Beef:

For Lighter Chinese Dishes, ex. Mushroom Chicken, Shrimp Fried Rice:

Walnut Shrimp? Try a medium-bodied Pinot Noir.


Indian Cuisine 

Anyone who has ever eaten (or simply smelled) Indian food knows that the dishes are full of flavor! When you are eating Indian food, the most important rule of thumb is to match the wine to the sauce, not the meat (or main ingredient, if you’re eating vegetarian, ie. paneer, potatoes). For example, Tikka Masala’s main ingredient of the sauce is tomatoes, which makes it highly acidic, while Korma’s sauce is creamy and rich, made of cashew powder and heavy cream. The sauce (and Indian food is all about the sauce) determines the wine that you should drink. Another aspect that factors into wine pairing with Indian food is the spice-heat. Commonly, many Indian dishes have some level of spiciness, or at least are made up of a lot of intense spices. Overall, a wine that is on the sweeter side is going to complement the Indian heat better than a dry wine.

We suggest:

  • Riesling (especially German)
  • American Rosé / White Zinfandel
  • Moscato
  • Gamay (better known as Beaujolais, a light-bodied red)
  • Grenache (another light-bodied red)


Italian / Italian-American Cuisine (and Pizza, too!)

This is one of those cuisines where the sixth rule above really works great. Match Italian wines to your Italian food and you can hardly go wrong, especially if you can match the wine region. Many Italian dishes are tomato-based sauces, so pairing them with wine that is also high in acidity will do the trick (see Rule # 2 above). Again, this is one of those meals where you would match the wine to the sauce before you look at any of the secondary ingredients. A perfect example is chicken parmigiana – yes it is chicken, but you would never want to serve a light sweet white wine, because the chicken is coated in tomato sauce. Match the wine to the sauce!

For tomato-based Italian food, ex. spaghetti, lasagna, red sauce pizza:  


For less acidic Italian fare, ex. fettucine alfredo, caccio e pepe, mushroom risotto:

  • Full-Bodied White Wines
  • Light-Bodied Red Wines
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Rosso di Montalcino
  • Some Chardonnay



Mexican Food

Mexican food can be a little bit tricky to pair, but it is safe to say that you can follow the first five main rules above pretty well here, along with pairing latin American wines for that hot-climate flavor. For starters, a lot of Mexican food has a fair amount of spice to it, say for example pollo verde (green salsa chicken) or enchiladas. This is one of those cuisines where you do want to stick to the common rule of white meat, white wine, however, not necessarily red meat, red wine! Confused yet? Wine Folly has a ton of excellent suggestions for different Mexican dishes to pair with wine!

We Suggest:

  • Spanish Wines
  • South American Wines
  • Malbec
  • Garnacha
  • Temperanillo
  • Verdejo
  • Albariño
  • Vinho Verde


American Cuisine

Because of our great melting pot of a country, American food is steeped in influences from all over the world, especially France and Germany. And just like the food, American wine also borrows tons of techniques and influence from Europe  While the general pairing rules usually stick – white meat, white wine / red meat, red wine, the first five rules above are equally as important. And as for the sixth rule of region-matching, you can follow that pretty well by looking at the influence of the dish, too! Here’s a really easy chart to follow – click on the image to enlarge and print it out for yourself!



Even More Helpful Wine Advice from GiftTree’s Wine Cellar!

Six Rules for Perfect Wine Pairing

Champagne 101: A Crash Course on Bubbly

Which Glass Is Right For My Wine?