There are thousands of people in the world who thoroughly enjoy good food and good wine, but it can be surprising how many of them are unaware of how to properly combine the two. More than perhaps any other substance, wine can be enhanced or detracted from depending upon what it is drunk alongside. For example, drinking a bold, dry red wine while eating a light, sweet dish combines two flavours that are far from complimentary, and this will take away from your enjoyment of both the meal and the wine. So, here are some wine pairing tips to keep in mind the next time you head to Marks & Spencer for some wine shopping.

One of the most popular and most delicious general wine pairings is matching a steak dish with a strong, dry red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot. One of the basic rules to abide by in pairing food and wine (though it is not universally true) is to pair bold flavours with each other, and weak flavours together as well. Thus, a strong, rich meat such as a steak needs to be placed alongside a wine that can keep up with the strength of flavour without being overwhelmed.

Keeping in tune with the rule of matching bold flavours together, most chicken dishes are recommended with white wines, though some light red wines (Rioja, for example) are often acceptable. For the most part, experts recommend preparing a chicken dish alongside a Chardonnay. However, it is important to remember that chicken is a very broad term. With a steak, you generally know more or less what to expect in terms of flavour, with chicken however, there are enough different styles of preparation that the boldness of the flavour can easily change.

Fish often has its own rules for pairings as well, as different fish flavours are bolder than others. However, it is almost universally true that red wine will overwhelm most fish dishes, which leads most people to lean toward lighter white wines, such as Pinot Grigio or Chablis. This makes for a very light, easy meal with emphasis on crisp flavours that are pleasant but not overwhelming.

Ultimately, the advice listed above is just a start toward understanding wine pairings. However, it does provide a helpful outline for how to match major meat dishes with different types of wines. If you truly wish to maximize your enjoyment of your wine, and your meals, there are plenty of online resources, and even classes that you can take, that can help you to understand the full depth of wine pairing techniques.

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