Wine & Food Pairings

Nothing complements a meal better than a bottle of fine wine; provided, of course, that you match the right wine to the correct dish. Even though there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing wines to accompany food, there are certain wine selections that complement specific dishes better than others.

So, as part of our Wine and Food Education program, the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission is pleased to present this guide to matching some of the many varieties and styles of wine with particular cuisines. We hope you find it helpful in planning your next dining occasion. We're sure you'll soon see how the right wine selection can enhance any meal into becoming a truly special experience.

To view our wine and food pairings brochure, click here.  To view our wine tasting brochure, click here, to view our wine varieties brochure, click here and to view our buying and enjoying wine brochure click here.

First Course

Antipasto
Dry or medium white, preferably Italian such as Soave. Also light red such as Valpolicella, Bardolino.

Asparagus
Not a great partner on its own for wine, but New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will work the best.

Avocado
With shrimp or crab, a dry to medium white such as Rheingau Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or a dry rosé. With vinaigrette dressing, a light sherry.

Bisques
Dry white with plenty of body such as Verdicchio, Pinot Gris, or Graves. Also, full bodied California Chardonnay. Champagne.

Cheese Fondue
Most recipes call for Fendant or Neuchatel, a dry wine from Switzerland, but since these are hard to find, we recommend Alsace Pinot Blanc, or Pinot Gris, or a German Kabinett Riesling for an off dry match.

Chowders
Big-scale white, not necessarily bone-dry, such as Rhone or Pinot Gris.

Crudités
Light red or rosé from the south of France. Also, Beaujolais, Chianti, or Zinfandels below 13.5 % alcohol.

Escargots
Red or white of some substance such as Burgundy, Cotes-du-Rhone, Chardonnay.

Minestrone
Red such as Chianti, Barbera, or Dolcetto.

Onions/Leeks
Fruity dry white such as Riesling or Macon-Villages. If the vegetables are carmelized, then an Amontillado Sherry is a surprising match.

Pasta
Red or white according to the sauce and accompaniments. With clam sauce, Verdicchio or Soave. With meat sauce, Chianti, Beaujolais, or Cotes-du-Rhone and even Zinfandel. With tomato sauce, Barbera or Sicilian red. With cream sauce (Alfredo), Orvieto or Frascati.

Paté
An Alsacian Pinot Gris is perfect. Also, champagne or simple Macon whites.

Peppers/Eggplant, Stuffed
Vigorous reds such as Chianti, Zinfandel, or Cotes-du-Rhone.

Pizza
Dry Italian red, particularly wines from Sicily. Spanish Rioja, Australian Shiraz, or California Zinfandel.

Prosciutto With Melon
Medium-bodied, dry or off-dry white such as Orvieto, Frascati, Pinot Grigio, California Gewurztraminer or Prosécco.

Quiche
Dry white with body from Alsace or Graves, or Sauvignon Blanc. Also, depending on the ingredients, a young red such as Gamay, Beaujolais, or Cotes-du-Rhone.

Ratatouille
Vigorous young reds such as Cotes du Rhone, Chianti or Zinfandel.

Salad
Any dry or appetizing white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Ceasar salad goes great with full-bodied reds especially if the parm-reg cheese is added.

Salami
German Riesling is terrific. For reds, Barbera, Zinfandel, or young Bordeaux.

Salmon, Smoked
Dry, but pungent white such as fino sherry, Alsatian Gewurztraminer, or Chablis Grand Cru.

Shrimp/Prawns
Dry white such as Sauvignon Blanc, Macon Villages or Alsatian Riesling.

Soufflés
With fish soufflés, dry white such as Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, also, whites from the Atlantic coast of Spain. With cheese soufflés, red Burgundy, Bordeaux, or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Trout, Smoked
Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé, or California Fumé Blanc.

Meat & Poultry

Barbeque Sauce
Red meat will be accompanied well with wines such as Zinfandel, Merlot, Barbera. With white meat (chicken or pork) use Valpolicella. Off-dry Riesling is an unexpected surprise here!

Beef, Roast
An ideal partner for fine red wines of almost any kind but particularly wines which are full bodied like Napa Cabernet or Bordeaux.

Beef, Stew
Mourvedre, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux and Chateauneuf- du-Pape.

Beef Stroganoff
A suitably dramatic red such as Barolo, Amarone, Barbaresco, Pinot Noir, Crozes Hermitage or Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Chicken or Turkey, Roast
Virtually any wine, but Pinot Noir is probably the best choice for reds and fruity whites such as Riesling and Pinot Grigio are also good.

Chinese Food
This usually calls for off-dry whites such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and some domestic Rose.

Coq Au Vin
Red Burgundy - (which is 100% Pinot Noir) One bottle in the dish and one bottle on the table. If you wish to substitute, try, domestic Pinot Noir, Cotes Rotie, or Shiraz.

Duck or Goose
Pinot Noir is perfect for seared duck breast while a cabernet will go better with a confit of leg. For whites, try full bodied California Chardonnay. Also, Chateauneuf-du-Pape can work for both.

Frankfurters
A German or Austrian white or Beaujolais.

Game Birds
Any vibrant youthful tasting red or white will usually work here.

Ham
If the ham is glazed, then go with a German Riesling. If it's roasted without a sweet glaze, then a young red Burgundy (such as Volnay, Savigny, or Beaune) domestic Pinot Noir or Chianti.

Hamburger
Any vigorous red such as Zinfandel, Bordeaux, Cabernet, Merlot, or Shiraz.

Kabobs
Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Dolcetto, or Cotes-du-Rhone.

Lamb Cutlets or Chops, Roast Lamb
One of the traditional and best partners is a very good red Bordeaux, Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot.

Mixed Grill
The lighter the fare, the lighter bodied red wine. Heavily marinated meats with sauces demand more complex reds.

Pork Roast
Since the sauce or stuffing often has more flavor than the meat, sharp apple sauce or pungent sage and onion need only a plain young wine. Roast pork without sauce or stuffing is a good neutral background for a very good white or red wine. Traditionally, Alsatian white varietals such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, or a red such as Pinot Noir go best, but if there is a hearty sauce, you could go with Bordeaux.

Rabbit
Any young Italian red, particularly Barbera and Dolcetto, Bordeaux, or Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

Steaks
Au poivre demands a Spicy Australian Shiraz Rhone wine like Hermitage. With Filet Mignon or Tournedos, reds of any kind are appropriate, Bordeaux, Cabernet, Shiraz or full throttle Zinfandels are best. Grilled T-bone goes well with reds such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Zinfandel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Veal, Roast
This is a good neutral background dish for any older red which has matured. Wines from the northern Rhone work the best. Also a German white is appropriate if you prefer white wine.

Venison
Big-scale reds such as Rhone or Bordeaux or rich whites from Riesling such as Rheinpfalz Spatlese or Alsatian go best.

Wiener Schnitzel
The Germans traditionally drink beer with this dish, but also use Riesling Kabinetts as well. Light fruity reds can also work here. Wines like Beaujolais, or Zinfandel. Austrian Riesling or Gruner Veltliner are also good choices.

Seafood

Clams
A light-bodied white such as a Chablis or Orvieto, also an Alsatian Pinot Blanc or Riesling would make a good match.

Cod
Cod is a good neutral background for fine dry or medium whites such as Chablis, Cru Classé Graves, or German Kabinett (Riesling). Crab, cold, with Salad. California or Rheinpfalz Riesling Kabinett or Spatlese.

Haddock
A dry white with a certain richness such as Meursault or California Chardonnay from Russian River Valley.

Lobster or Crab
In salad form, try a non-vintage Champagne, Alsatian Riesling, or Chablis Premier Cru. With richly sauced lobster or crab, vintage Champagne, fine white Burgundy, Cru Classé White Graves, Chardonnay from Carneros, Santa Barbara or New Zealand, Rheinpfalz Riesling Spatlese, or Hermitage Blanc.

Tuna
A hard or sharp white such as Sauvignon Blanc or white Rioja. Also try a medium-bodied red wine such as Pinot Noir, Merlot or Dolcetto.

Mussels
Muscadet, Pinot Noir, or a young Chardonnay. Chianti if the mussels are done in an Italian style red sauce.

Oysters
Non-vintage Champagne, Chablis, Muscadet, White Rioja, or Entre-Deux-Mers. Varietals such as Albarino from Spain, Sauvignon (Fumé) Blanc, Pinot Blanc from Alsace or a crisp Chardonnay will also do well.

Salmon
Fine white Burgundy such as Puligny or Chassagne Montrachet, Meursault, Corton Charlemagne, Chablis Grand Cru, Chardonnay from Carneros, Sonoma. For reds, Pinot Noir is an excellent choice here, particularly from Oregon, California or Burgundy.

Scallops
A medium-dry white wine. With cream sauces, German wines are best. If broiled, grilled, or fried, Hermitage Blanc, Cotes-du-Rhone White, Gewurztraminer, California Chenin Blanc, Riesling, or Champagne are your best choices.

Shrimp (Stuffing)
Fino sherry or Chablis.

Sole
If plain, broiled, grilled, or fried, any white Burgundy is an ideal accompaniment. With tomato sauce, a sharp dry wine is best. A fairly sweet white wine is best for Sole Veronique and similar dishes.

Swordfish
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Barbera.

Trout
A delicate white wine such as Mosel. If the trout is smoked, try Champagne.

Halibut
Muscadet, Vouvray, White Cotes du Rhone or Pinot Noir.

Cheese

Blue Cheeses: Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Danish, Etc.
These cheeses are so strongly flavored that they overpower most wines - except dessert wines. Classic matches are Roquefort with Sauternes and Stilton with Port.

Cheddar
If the cheese is on the strong side, you need a sweet or strong wine. A port or very big red such as Hermitage, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, or Barolo can work as can full bodied Chardonnay or whites from Alsace.

Brie
Chardonnay, Pouilly Fume, Champagne or sparkling wine.

Feta or Chevre
A white wine of distinct character, either dry such as Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre or sweet, such as German Auslese.

Monterey Jack
Try a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

Hard Cheeses: Parmesan, Pecorino, Parmigiano, Reggiano, Gruyere, Etc.
Dry wines such as Chianti Classico Riserva, Brunello, Cabernet Sauvignon. For whites, Alsatian white wines and Champagne are excellent.

Desserts

Apple Pie, Apple Strudel
Sweet German, Austrian, or Hungarian whites.

Baked Alaska
Sweet Champagne or Asti Spumante.

Biscotti
(For dipping in the wine) Vin Santo.

Cakes
Bual or Malmsey Madeira and Oloroso or cream sherry.

Cheesecake
A sweet white from Vouvray or Germany.

Chocolate
(Dark) Vintage Port, (Milk) Tawny Port. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Black Muscat.

Christmas Pudding
Demi-sec Champagne or Asti Spumante.

Custards, Puddings
Sauternes, German Auslese, or a similar golden white or Tokay.

Crème Brûlée
Either Sauternes or German Auslese, or the best Madeira or Tokaji.

Fruit Flans
Sauternes, German Auslese, or sweet Vouvray.

Fruit, Fresh
Sweet German white or a light, sweet Muscat.

Nuts
Oloroso sherry, Bual, Madeira, or a vintage port.

Stewed Fruits
A sweet Muscat such as Muscat de Beaumes deVenise or Moscato D'Asti.

Strawberries, Fresh
Red Bordeaux, Gamay, Beaujolais, or Pinot Noir.

Strawberries and Cream
Sauternes, Vouvray, or a German Spatlese or Auslese.

Wedding Cake
Asti Spumante

 

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