A-Z Food and Wine Pairings


When it comes to pairing wine with food, the principle is quite simple. Full bodied wine can really only pair to full bodied food (think meat, barbeque, grilled chops); otherwise, it overwhelms the food. Likewise, a crisp acidic white, like a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, is significantly more versatile and works better as a food “accent” than a flavor partner. I hear all kinds of argument about the do’s and don’ts of wine pairing, but my friend Marty Tiersky sums it up here. This is Marty’s guide to wine pairing from notes he keeps in a book-like format that he has never published.

Tell me some of the challenges you have when pairing food and wine. We can probably dispel a few myths.


Anchovy Grassy, Loire or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, high acid dry Riesling, Manzanilla Sherry

Artichoke Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner

Asian Cuisine Riesling, off dry Vouvray, Albariño, Pinot Grigio, Tocai Fruiliano, new world Sauvignon Blanc, Alsatian Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer

Asparagus Gruner Veltliner Sauvignon Blanc, steely whites,

Bacon Beaujolais, Sancere rouge, Gewurztraminer

Beef, Barbecued Spicy, medium weight Zinfandel, northern Rhone, Languedoc-Roussilon and Austrian reds

Beef, Ground Inexpensive, low tannin, medium weight reds, fruity Merlot

Beef, Roast Bordeaux, California Cabernet

Beef, Steak Bordeaux, California Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, Chianti Classico Riserva, Ribuero del Duero

Beef, Stew Rhone Valley red, Zinfandel

Bell Peppers Sauvignon Blanc, Vouvray

Caesar Salad Crisp Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, light Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Albariño or other Spanish whites, Sparkling wine.

Cajun/Creole Chenin Blanc, Riesling, dry rosé, Zinfandel, Shiraz

Calamari New world, grassy Sauvignon Blanc, Tocai Fruiliano

Calves Liver Merlot, Loire Red, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone red

Caviar Iced Vodka, light dry sparkling, Muscadet

Ceviche Unoaked Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Albariño

Chicken, Barbecued Riesling, Viognier, Chenin Blanc or fruity, light-bodied Beaujolais, Loire Cabernet Franc, Languedoc-Rousillon Red, Valpolicella, Zinfandel.

Chicken, Cream Sauce Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne

Chicken, Fried New Zealand or other new world Sauvignon Blanc or medium weight Chianti Classico

Chicken, Mole Zinfandel, Shiraz

Chicken, Roasted Chardonnay (preferably without oak), Chenin Blanc, Riesling, full-bodied Sauvigon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, fruity California Zinfandel or a classic, well aged red wine (e.g. Rioja Rieserva)

Chinese Off dry Riesling, aromatic whites

Clams Muscadet, medium weight Pinot Noir

Cod/Brandade de Morue ~ Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux, Riesling, Muscadet

Coq au Vin Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Chianti Riserva

Corn Riesling, Chardonnay

Crab Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay

Crayfish Off dry Riesling, lightrer style white Burgundy

Duck, Confit Unoaked, fruity, dry white, Alsatian Tokay Pinot Gris, Nebbiolo, Ribero del Duero

Duck Roasted Burgundy, off dry Riesling, cool climate Merlot, medium weight Nebbiolo, Rioja Crianza

Duck, Orange Zinfandel, Shiraz

Eggs Light, neutral, crisp whites, high acid sparkling wines

Fennel Sauvignon Blanc

Filet Mignon Elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux

Fish, Fried Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino and other Spanish whites, Soave, Pinot Grigio, German Riesling, crisp, unoaked Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc

Fish, Grilled or Baked – white flesh Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, unoaked Chardonnay, Chablis, Pinot Blanc, Chenin Blanc

Fish, Grilled or Baked – strongly flavored Alsatian Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay, white Rhones, Loire reds (e.g. Chinon, Bourgueil, Sancere rouge)

Fish, Smoked Gewurztraminer, Alsatian Pinot Gris, Chablis, sparkling wine

Fish, Tomato Sauce Sauvignon Blanc, crisp whites

Foie Gras Sweet Botrytized wines, Sauternes, Alsatian Ventage Tardive or Selection de Grains Nobles Gewurztraminer

Game Birds Tuscan, Piedmont, Australian, Rhone and Spanish reds, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, Semillion

Goose Off dry Riesling, Rosso di Montalcino, Burgundy, Rhone Valley red

Guacamole Sauvignon Blanc, German Riesling (Moselle)

Gumbo Alsatian or Austrian white, Shiraz, Pinot Noir

Ham Riesling, Pinot Gris, light Pinot Noir, Sancere Rouge, Beaujolais

Hot Dogs Medium weight spicy Languedoc-Roussilon reds

Indian Spicy Rhone reds (e.g. Gigondas, St. Joseph, Crozes Hermitage) Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, other aromatic whites

Japanese Sake, sparkling wines, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friuliano

Lamb, Roasted Burgundy, Bordeaux, Merlot, Rioja, Chianti Classico

Lamb, Braised Australian reds, Rioja Crianza, Barbera, fruity Cabernet Sauvignon

Lobster Chardonnay, white Burgundy, Alsatian or Austrian Riesling

Mexican Dry Riesling, Vouvray, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Shiraz, Zinfandel

Mushrooms Pinot Noir

Mussels Muscadet, Pinot Grigio, Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc, Alsatian Pinot Blanc, fruity white Burgundy (e.g. Bourgogne Aligote). Tocai Fruiliano

Nicoise Salad Dry rosé, fruity red

Olives Fino Sherry, sparkling wines

Oysters Chablis, Muscadet, Loire Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling wine, Pinot Noir

Paella Albariño, dry rosé, Rioja Crianza

Pasta, Tomato Sauce Soave, Sauvignon Blanc, Southern Italian reds

Pheasant Piedmont reds, Pinot Noir, Ribero del Duero, Rosso di Montalcino

Pizza Valpolicella, Chianti Rufina, Loire reds, Beaujolais

Pork Ribs, BBQ German Riesling, Alsatian Pinot Blanc, Loire reds (e.g. Chinon, Bourgueil) chilled Beaujolais, fruity Zinfandel

Pork, Roast or Chops Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Cru Beaujolais, Pinot Noir

Prosciutto Dry Riesling, Tocai Friuliano, Soave, Sauvignon Blanc

Quail White Burgundy, Chianti Classico, Zinfandel, Dolcetto, Rioja Crianza

Rabbit Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet/Shiraz blends

Ratatouille Languedoc-Roussilon reds (e.g. Minervois, Corbieres), dry Rose

Salad Racy whites, Sauvignon Blanc, dry Riesling, Vinho Verde, Rueda

Salmon Medium weight Pinot Noir (e.g. Oregon, Sancere rouge), Merlot, Chablis,

Sardines Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde, Spanish whites

Sausages Beaujolais, fruity Zinfandel, dry rosé, aromatic Alsatian whites, Gruner Veltliner

Scallops Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc

Shellfish, Raw Muscadet, Chablis, Champagne, Vinho Verde, Albariño, Pinot Grigio

Shrimp, Cocktail Sauvignon Blanc, Spanish whites and other high acid whites

Shrimp, Grilled-Broiled Muscadet, Albariño, Pinot Grigio, Fino Sherry, Chenin Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay

Squab Rhone reds (e.g. Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Cotes Rotie, Hermitage St. Joseph), Australian Shiraz and Grenache, Merlot, Super Tuscans

Soup, Clear Dry Fino Sherry, Madeira

Soup, Cream Fruity, dry whites, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris

Southwestern Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Vouvray, Pinot Noir, Languedoc-Roussilon reds

Sushi Riesling, sparkling wine. Pinot Noir for tuna and fattier and oily fish

Sweetbreads Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir

Thai Riesling (low alcohol-off dry), Pinot Gris, Vouvray, chilled Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, light Zinfandel

Tomatoes Sauvignon Blanc, rosé sparkling

Tuna Medium weight Loire and Rhone reds, Pinot Noir, oaked Chardonnay

Turkey, Roast Dry Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir

Turkey, Thanksgiving Fruity whites, Riesling, Vouvray, Tocai Fruiliano, light reds, Beaujolais, Chinon, Merlot

Veal, Roast Chardonnay, dry Riesling, Vouvray, Rhone whites, Pinot Gris, Rioja, Burgundy, Loire Red,

Venison Northern Rhones (e.g. Cotes Rotie, Hermitage) Piedmont reds, Australian Shiraz and Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux

Zucchini Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Grenache Blanc


About Laura Levy Shatkin

Laura Levy Shatkin served for 10 years as food and wine critic for the Chicago Reader. Later, she became an Emmy-nominated executive producer for Taste, a 30-minute food and wine show on NBC-5 Chicago, which later merged into www.WineTasteTV.com, where Ms. Levy is a partner/owner. Today, she teaches private wine classes and hosts wine parties for consumers and firms, and continues to tell the video stories of wine, girlfriends and wine travel on her TCW blog, Wine…ing Women.