Selecting the wine to go with the meal can be intimidating, because while no dinner has ever been ruined with the "wrong" wine, the right wine can enhance a dish to perfection. 

There are no hard and fast rules on matching food and wine, because it's ultimately a matter of personal taste, but the best food and wine pairings create a balance between the components of a dish and the characteristics of a wine. At The Mill Kitchen and Bar, we know a thing or two about what wine compliments what food, so we're here today with some basic tips on how to pair great wine with great food.

Red Wine & White Wine Food Pairings

When it comes to wine and food pairings, the general rule of thumb is white wines for lighter dishes, like chicken and fish, and red wines for heavier dishes, like beef and lamb. Generally speaking, red wines are full of color and mouth-puckering tannins, allowing them to cut through fatty foods and hold up to bold flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec are a few that would fit the bill for a great steak dinner. 

With lighter meats though, it’s important to pair the wine with the sauce, as it’s most likely the primary flavor on the plate. For example, a pasta dish with lemon-cream sauce would pair well with a citrusy Sauvignon Blanc or a fruit-forward Pinot Grigios.   

Some of our favorite red wine food pairings include: 
• Cabernet Sauvignon with red meat or lamb
• Pinot Noir with seafood or salads
• Merlot with roasted chicken or turkey
• Malbec with tomato-based meat dishes, or spiced vegetarian soups and stews

Some of our favorite white wine food pairings include: 
• Chardonnay and lobster or smoked salmon
• Champagne and caviar
• Chablis and oysters
• Chenin Blanc and roast pork

Finding the Perfect Flavor Balance

To choose the perfect wine to highlight your meal, you should consider the dish as a whole. Is it salty, bitter, spicy, sweet, acidic, or fatty? Once you determine the overall flavor profile, you can choose a wine that complements or contrasts with the dominant flavors. 

The classic combination of a dry red wine with steak works because the wine has a similarly bold flavor, and the bitterness cuts through the fat. No matter what cut of steak you choose, a red wine is sure to compliment it nicely.  But, when choosing dessert, the flavors in a rich fatty cheesecake generally perform better when contrasted against a more acidic wine, or one with higher alcohol content, like a liqueur or sherry. 

As much as pairing food and wine is complex, the basics are simple to grasp: Drink and eat what you like, try to find a balance between flavors, and try to match the wine with the most prominent flavors of a dish. If you’re just getting started, you’ll find these methods useful to produce consistently great pairings. And as you get more familiar with different wines, you can confidently experiment with breaking the rules.

A few of our tips for food and wine pairing are: 

  • Match the sauce: Most of the time, we recommend pairing wine with the meat, but when there is sauce present, it’s best to match the wine to the sauce. 
  • Don’t mix bitter with bitter. Taste buds are easily overpowered; if you’re dining on a bitter food, don’t pair it with a bitter wine. 
  • Always keep your wine sweeter than your dessert. This keeps the wine from tasting bitter and tart. 
  • Let the wine speak. Because every wine has different characteristics, it’s important to focus on complimenting the features of that wine with the food of your choice. 

Enjoy Flawless Wine Pairing in Action at The Mill!

We live for great wine and great food at The Mill Kitchen and Bar! We hope our guide will come in handy the next time you need to know how to pick wine, and how to compliment food with your choice. When you’re ready to put your skills to the test, stop by our Roswell restaurant, where our servers will be happy to help.