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6 “Pretty Good” Wine Pairing

Don’t Worry About Finding the Perfect Match

It’s likely the most daunting task for many wine lovers is to try and capture the absolute “perfect” match. Sure, when it can be done, and when it does, the flavours and textures of both the wine and the dish can transcend from simple sustenance to something so magical it would make the angels weep.

However, we’re lowly mortals and that kind of painstaking effort starts to creep into tedious boredom. And to be frank, our hedonistic enjoyment of good food and wine will simply not allow us to go there. So while we tend to shy away from the “best” pairings, we do opt for the more general, and open to interpretation, personal favourites, or really good matches. It’s all about being flexible which allows for a bit of creativity and a bit of fun.

Try to match the weight of the food, with the weight of the dish.  Bolder flavours such as blue cheese, meat ragus or red wine reductions, call for bolder flavoured wines like cabernets, amarones, and zinfandels. Light foods like white fish, goats’ cheese or simply prepared vegetables do better with lighter wines, like pinot grigio, muscadet or chablis.

You also can fall back on our favourite adage, “if it grows together it goes together” meaning wines of the region are usually ideal partners to foods of that same place.  Think boeuf bourguignon with red Burgundy (pinot noir), osso bucco with barolo, or pork schnitzel with riesling.  When really in doubt, here are a few of our standbys.


Champagne/Sparkling Wine

Bubbly always makes for a great food pairing. A natural palate cleanser from the acidic lift, fizz cuts through the richness of pate or frito misto, is delicate enough to pair with strawberries and offers a nice contrast to salty foods like caviar, briny oysters or even simple buttered popcorn.


Cave Spring Blanc de Blanc Brut Sparkling Wine
VQA Niagara Escarpment NV $29.95








Bright and fresh with fruity/mineral driven flavours, this is possibly the world’s most food friendly wine. In fact, we always tell our clients  - when in doubt, go with riesling. From aromatic and spicy dishes like Thai, Indian or Mexican foods to richer meals of pulled pork or duck confit, riesling offers a superb match


Tawse “Sketches of Niagara” Riesling
VQA Niagara Peninsula 2010 $17.95








Straddling the border between red and white wine, great dry rosés can be fabulous food matches for their modest alcohol and great acidic balance. Think Provence and tuck into moules et frites, spicy grilled prawns or simple roast chicken.


13th Street “BGPP” Rosé
VQA Niagara Peninsula 2011 $19.95







Pinot Noir

In terms of food pairings, pinot is probably the easiest red to match. Its soft tannic structure and fruity/earthy flavours make it very versatile, complementing rich braised beef and rustic grilled lamb as easily as it does barbecued salmon or roast beets.


Norman Hardie Unfiltered Pinot Noir
VQA Niagara Peninsula 2009 $35







Cabernet Sauvignon

Not exactly the easiest match in the world, this made our list as we meet so many people who “only drink red.” As limiting as that maxim may be, you may as well pick one that can be a classic match to many “red wine” foods. You just have to look to Bay Street lunch rushes to see the iconic draw of cabernet and steak. While young cabs, with their tannic structure work exceedingly well with slabs of beef, older Bordeaux-style reds calm in their maturity making them ideal pairings with grilled mushrooms, game birds and aged cheddar cheese.


Ravine Meritage
VQA St. David’s Bench 2010 $24.95









Erin & Courtney Henderson are The Wine Sisters, specializing in custom wine events and tours. Visit them online at thewinesisters.com