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Top tips for wine pairing this Festive season


It’s that time of year. Time to plan a delicious mouth-watering feast to enjoy with friends and family. If you intend to serve a traditional Christmas dinner, or something less conventional, the wines you pair should compliment the flavours and textures of your meal. Just as there are hundreds of different ways to prepare turkey, there are hundreds of wine pairing combinations that will excite the senses.

Think of wine as an ingredient. It’s all about what’s already in the wine and in the food that will enhance the overall experience. When planning the menu, consider whether or not you’ll be preparing a sit-down dinner or open-house grazing table. The foods and wines should offer a progression of flavours - complementing one another, and enhancing specific characteristics in each.

There’s no need to choose one bottle, or one style of wine to drink throughout the evening. Instead, feel free to explore, taste, share, indulge and discover new avenues in food and wine pairing by utilising Coravin’s unique wine-by-the-glass systems. Feel free to explore a variety of wines to see which combinations are most pleasing to you and encourage your guests to do the same. You can also experiment with different food and wine pairings ahead of your event to curate the experience for your guests.

In this article we focus on the various characteristics in wine that will guide you into deciding what dishes to pair with which wine.
Let’s begin…


Could you think of a better way to start the evening then popping a bottle of Champagne and toasting to a great year? Whether it’s French Champagne, Italian Prosecco, English Sparkling or Spanish Cava, you can plan an entire dinner with only sparkling wines.

Start with the appetizers. Think light, bite-size options that tease the palate for the courses to come. Smoked Salmon Canapes pair beautifully with the acidity and strawberry flavours from a Sparkling Rosé. Or, if you prefer a Brut Champagne, accompany this with a Tomato Bruschetta or a beautiful brie and camembert cheese board; just small enough to curb one's appetite and compliment the bold flavors of a dry Champagne.

The food pairing options with sparkling wines are quite remarkable, and sparkling wines are just as versatile as still wines. These wines have the perfect balance of dryness, bubbles, fruit aromas and creamy-buttery flavouring to amplify any dining experience; making it possible to host a food and wine pairing evening with a selection of Champagne, Cava, Prosecco or Sparkling.

Below we have a delicious example of a three course dinner and sparkling wine pairing you could serve over the Festive season. If you are concerned about those delightful bottles of bubbly losing their jubilant effervescence shortly after opening, have no fear. The Coravin Sparkling wine by the glass system will preserve the flavour and texture of your sparkling wines for up to 4 weeks.

IMG - Sparkling wines food and wine pairing


Subdue acidity with acidity. Foods that are high in acidity will require a wine with a similar level of acidity, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir or Chianti. Each softens the sharp, biting edges of the other, making for the perfect pairing! Lower-acidity wines (like Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, for example) can be overwhelmed by foods high in acid. Remember: if the wine has less acidity than the food, it will taste flat.

High acid wine varietals include:

  • Riesling

  • Sauvignon Blanc

  • Chablis

  • Gamay

  • Pinot Noir

  • Chianti

Low acid wine varietals include:

  • Merlot

  • Malbec

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Chardonnay

  • Grenache

For example, if you plan to serve duck breast with orange zest, this will pair very well with a Pinot Noir.

IMG - Pair acidic wine with food


Full body wines tend to be higher in alcohol. Wines with high alcohol levels are known to exaggerate the flavor of salt, and tend to overpower delicate flavors in food. Many full-bodied red wines, such as Burgundy, Malbec and Barolo, pair nicely with classic Italian dishes, like lasagna, vermicelli and meatballs. The rich, full flavours in these dishes complement the fruit-forward notes in these wines

Wine and cheese is one of the most common pairings, but be careful with your selection. A full-bodied wine can overpower the flavour of a delicate cheese (such as feta), so if you’re sipping on a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or Sherry, best to pair it with an aged or fermented cheese.

IMG - full body wines food and wine pairings


Tannins in wine are derived from the skins, stems and seeds of the grapes, and are most prevalent in red wines. They generally create a drying sensation on your tongue. Fat and tannins are made for each other: fat counteracts the tannins in wine and make them easier to drink, while tannins in the wine balance the richness in high-fat foods. A high tannin wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Barolo, pairs very nicely with cheese or slow roasted lamb. But be warned, a tannic wine will intensify the spice, so if you are making a spicy dish, like a curry, better to opt for something with lower tannins, such as a Pinot Noir, Gamay, Barbera, or any white or rosé wine.

IMG - Tannic wines with food


Just like their dry counterparts, sweet wines can pair with all types of food. Salty foods with sweet wines creates an enticing salty-sweet combination. Pairing sweet wines with vinegar based dressings results in a sweet-sour experience. While pairing with other fruit-forward or sweet sauces, such as fruit reductions, sweet sauces, or glazes, produces a delightfully decadent experience. Pairing sweet wines with different foods allows you to taste the complex flavors of each dish while enhancing and not overpowering the flavour of the wine.

Sweet wines can either mirror or contract the flavours from a meal. They can be either light or bold, so be considerate when pairing your courses. For example:

  • Ice wine is amongst the sweetest wine on the market, and pairs beautifully with a fruit-based dessert or strong cheese, like a blue cheese

  • Moscato is semi-sweet, and the fruity floral aromas pair wonderfully with spicy food, such as an Indian Saag Paneer.

  • Pair an off-dry Riesling with a olive and feta salad or grilled fish

IMG - Sweet food and wine pairing

Pairing food and wine doesn’t have to be complicated. Just keep these rules of thumb in mind when developing your menu.

  1. What grows together, goes together. Think Chianti with lasagna. Argentinian Malbec with grilled meats. Australian Sauvignon Blanc with seafood.

  2. No matter what the pairing is, make sure that the wine doesn’t overpower the food, and vice-versa.

  3. There are many different combinations that will work beautifully. Part of the fun is experimenting to see what each person likes best. Don't be afraid to experiment and try unusual combinations – you may be pleasantly surprised.

Pairing wines is an art, and everyone’s taste is different. Your best bet is to carry some basics in your collection, including a combination of red and white wines, rosés and sparkling wines. This will ensure you have the perfect glass on hand for each occasion. That’s where Coravin Wine Preservation Systems comes in handy. If you wish to host a wine pairing evening with multiple bottles, moderate the amount you consume, only sip on one glass in the evening, or prefer red when your partner wants white – whatever your wine drinking needs, there is a Coravin device for you.