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Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

The wine-ing combination

Jane Parkinson's guide to which wine goes best with what food

There are many ways to enjoy food and there are many wines that can make the experience better. Here’s a guide to which wine goes best with what food.


As a general guide, it is always useful to recommend wines with fish based on the location of the winemaking region because wines made near a coastline often go very well with seafood as they have the salty freshness from the sea in their flavour. Muscadet from the Loire Valley in France is a delicate option; Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux, Chile, New Zealand and many more places is a great fuller-flavoured choice; while Portugal’s delicious white wine Vinho Verde was practically made for seafood. There are a couple of non-coastline wines that also work extremely well with fish: one is the young, vibrant citrus-flavoured Chablis from France and the other is Austria’s zesty and spicy flagship white grape, Grüner Veltliner.


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When it comes to wine pairings, lamb is one of the most versatile meats. It seems to adapt to many styles of red wine. This means you could choose the perfumed red grape Syrah or, for richer lamb dishes, the rich blackcurrant-filled Cabernet Sauvignon grape is great. Having said that, one country that endlessly pairs wines well with lamb is Italy. Central Italy in particular and so wines with vibrant cherry fruit such as Chianti Classico or Rosso di Montepulciano from Tuscany would be delicious. And if you’re looking for value for money, the black cherry and hint of spice from Abruzzo, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, would also do lamb very proud.


Pork loves a bit of Pinot Noir. This grape is best known for making the hedonistic Red Burgundy, of course, but it is made successfully in many other regions and countries these days. Whether it is the classic pork roast, a stew or casserole, cured or in a sticky Asian sauce such as black bean sauce, Pinot Noir will work its earthy, supple raspberry-flavoured magic. My favourite regions/countries at the moment are Mornington Peninsula in Australia and Central Otago in New Zealand because they’re (usually) fruitier than those made in Europe.


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Here’s the thing about wine and chocolates, the wine depends on how sweet or bitter the chocolate is. The darker and purer the chocolate, the better a table red (seriously) would match with it; two Italians—Amarone and Brachetto d’Acqui, with their dense fruity flavours—would be great. Chocolate with toffee, caramel, honeycomb and/or roasted nuts is delicious with the fortified wine called Rutherglen Muscat from Australia, which is liquid caramel itself. Finally, if there’s a strong vanilla flavour to the chocolate, a sweet sherry called Oloroso Dulce works a treat, having soaked up a gentle vanilla flavour from its time ageing in barrels.

Jane Parkinson is an award-winning wine journalist and author and her latest book is called Wine and Food.

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