The right drink can take a dish to the next level and vice versa, transforming the guest experience. From wine to beer, finding a perfect pair is much easier than you might expect. These experts share tips and tricks on pairing.
"I normally look at the region where the food is coming from and then find wines from there. Another great resource is “What to Drink with What you Eat” by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page."
Paul Peterson - Head Sommelier, Bouchon Las Vegas
"Some of the best pairings I've had have come from looking at the dish and thinking "If I were cooking, what ingredient could I add to this to bring it to a new and exciting place" and then finding the equivalent flavor of that ingredient in a wine, beer, etc."
Steve Wildy - Beverage Director, Vetri Family
"When pairing cocktails, wine or beer with food, I use comparing or contrasting flavors. For instance, rich seafood dishes call for high-acidity white wine. Another way I pair wine is via geography—an Italian-inspired pasta dish would pair with wine from a similar region."
Joshua Jenkins - General Manager, Lou Birds
I look for contrasting and complimenting flavors and textures, fried or richer foods with rich wines that have higher acid levels. I also love combining meats with effervescence, a grilled steak with a salty crust and rose champagne is probably my ultimate pairing.
Daniel Toral - Wine Director, 50 Eggs
"You always want to match the weight of a drink with the weight of a food. Full bodied wines and beers will obviously go well with richer heavier foods. Look to pair the structural components of the beverage rather than the flavor profiles. Also, look to pair the garnishes of a dish such as the sauce, starch, and vegetable with the beverage rather than the protein itself which is a lot of time just a blank canvas for which flavors are applied."
Sean Dawson- Head Sommelier, Bouchon, Yountville
"For pairings, it's a multi-layered approach. First and foremost complementary flavor profiles can be really compelling in dishes. A white that has hints citrus could be compelling with a crudo dish that has the same thing, a red with gamy, sanguine notes could be dynamite with a protein that shares those flavors. Next is wine structure and how that plays with the dish, the goal is to complement, not overpower. Acidity and tannin can clean up the fatty nature of a dish, also a heavier wine might overshadow a delicate item. It's a balance, make sure that the texture of the wine is homogenous with what you are pairing it too. Also, the old adage is 'what grows together goes together', this could not be more true. Some of the most dynamic pairings in the world of food and wine are regional, they've had generations to figure it out!"
Samuel Bogue - Wine Director, Ne Timeas Restaurant Group