• Your food and wine pairing cheat sheet

Your food and wine pairing cheat sheet

Australia is a land of many things and our abundance and love for exceptional food and wine is a testament to that. It's most probably because of this that our restaurant and bar scene is regarded as one of the best in the world. For locals, our diverse land and deep-seated European heritage have afforded us quite a unique selection of tastes. For out-of-towners, the land of great food and wine is a reputation we wear well.

From local Italian pasta joints to the Café Sydney’s of our dining repertoire, patrons expect more than just a food and drinks list now; they want an experience they can’t get at home, sitting on the couch eating out of Chinese takeaway containers. For this, more and more business owners are having to step up to the plate and offer wine selections that complement and enhance their food offerings.

Rajpreet Singh, chef at popular Indian restaurant The Bombay Spice Co. In Melbourne says that “for a nation of wine lovers, it’s important for restaurants to know what meals suit white wine drinkers and what meals suit red wine drinkers, not one or the other.” At his restaurant he offers food and wine pairing as part of their meal selections.

So, to make your menu creation that little bit easier, we have created a thorough list of wines and their complementary foods, which will win the hearts (and tastebuds) of your customers.

Meal types What the experts say Dos Don'ts


Antipasto platters with olives, cured meats, salty cheeses such as feta and parmesan and pasta sauces

“Salty foods pair well with wines that have a lot of sweetness or acid to balance the palette,” Rajpreet explains. o Dry sparkling wines
o High-acidity whites
o Reds
o Oaky whites
o Low acid whites
o Tannic red
o Anything with high-alcohol content

Tart or acidic foods

Citrus, vinegar, capers pickles or green apples

“These foods need a wine with a similar pH level or even higher, as acid doesn’t mix well with tannins,” according to Rajpreet. o High acidity Riesling
o Sauvignon Blanc
o Sparkling White
o Oaky
o Low acid reds

Sweet foods

Berries, caramelised onions, beetroots, carrots, brown sugar, sticky date pudding, chocolate tart and carrot cake.

Rajpreet says, “sweet dishes should be paired with wines that have a similar – if not a higher - sugar content.” o Off-dry whites
o Low tannic reds
o Tannic young reds
o High acid whites

Fatty meats

Scotch fillet, pork belly

Fat can cause a barrier between taste and flavour, so these foods need a wine with lots of tannins to cut through the fat. Avoid wines that are low in pH and tannin levels. o High-tannin reds
o Full-bodied bold SA Shiraz
o Cabernet Sauvignon
o High-acidic reds
o Whites
o Cabernet Sauvignon
o Shiraz
o Merlot
o Malbec
o Zinfandels

Spicy dishes

Curries, Singapore chilli crab, Vindaloo, Laksa, Nasi Goreng, kung pao chicken

“Sweet wines can do a great job of toning down the intensity of spicy and salty foods, rounding the flavours off and making the dish less overpowering,"
Rajpreet advises.
o Zinfandel
o Reisling
o Off-dry whites
o Crisp and light reds
o Oaky wines
o Wines with a high alcohol content

Creamy dishes

Fettucine Carbonara, Mac ‘n’ Cheese, curries

Try wines with a lot of fruit as they will counteract the chilli spices and thick creamy textures. o High-acidity Chardonnays
o Lighter-bodied Chardonnays
o Un-oaked Chardonnays
o Light-bodied Champagne
o Lighter Malbec
o Temperanillo
o Rioja
o Full-bodied, cold-climate Shiraz
o Cabernet Sauvignon
o Sickly-sweet Rieslings


Tacos, quesadillas, tostadas and enchilladas

Rajpreet says, “flavours in Mexican cuisine varies, though tomatoes are often a base ingredient. For this reason, it’s important to keep the dishes acidity levels in mind when selecting the right wine for your guests. There is also a lot of lime, coriander and jalapenos, so the wine your guests select largely depends on the ingredients.” o High-acidic dishes with lime, jalapenos and coriander, go for Reisling, Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot
o For meals with smoky and earthy chipotle notes opt for Malbecs or Tempranillos
o Oaky
o Toasty Chardonnays

Fried foods

Fish and chips, samosas, spring rolls

“Offer an acidic wine to cut through that fat and salt... you don’t want anything too heavy as the meal itself is already rich,” Rajpreet reveals. o Fruity whites
o Spicy Sauvignon Blancs
o Sparkling reds
o Sparkling whites
o Syrupy Rieslings

Smoked dishes

Chargrilled meats, hot-smoked salmon/trout, American barbecue

Smoked dishes have slightly bitter flavours, so you need to ensure that you have a red wine that has a lot of spice and oak in its flavouring to work well with the meal. o Syrah and Petite Syrah for heavily smoked dishes.
o Northern Spanish Rioja for lightly smoked dishes like chicken breast or turkey.
o Oaked wines with smoky flavours

For questions on how you can improve the food and wine pairing offering at your restaurant, speak to someone from our team of experts by clicking here.

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