Cooking with Claire: How to pair food and drinks

The matching of foods and drinks take meals to another level.  Here are some tips on how to improve everyday meals.  (Hernán Piñera/Flickr Creative Commons)

There are so many ways to advance your cooking through practice, determination and talent. However, the perfect complement for any meal cannot be understated. I have yet to master the talent of matching foods and drinks, but as a young college student, I imagine a lot of students have this problem. A drink can either ruin or take a meal to the next level. Here are several tips I’ve found through recent research. Obviously this story is for readers over 21, but if you’re not old enough yet, keep these tips in mind to impress your peers.

1. Pair lighter wines with lighter foods, and darker wines with darker foods. So, pair a white Chardonnay with fish, or pair a red Malbec or heavy stout beer with steak. This was the extent of my knowledge before research, and so far it has proved successful for me.

2. Rosé wine is the perfect wine to match all foods. This trendy wine is an in-between red and white wine that is perfect for many types of cheeses. Make some pizza, sandwiches or cheese dips and serve up the pink liquid courage.

3. Pair fruity wines with fruity desserts. Pairing a white Moscato with a fruit filled dessert like pie or tarts will bring out the sweetness and fruit flavor of both items.

4. According to foodandwine.com, if the same adjectives can be used to describe a food and a wine, the items will usually complement each other. Pair rich wines with rich foods. Pair sweet foods with sweet wines. Piece of cake.

5. Sometimes though, contrast is key. Pairing salty beers with sweet food is ideal. A lighter beer can make a heavy meal feel less burdening.

6. One main difference between wines and beers is carbonation. Bubbles cut through grease and fatty foods, according to epicurious.com. Pairing heavier pizzas or burgers with medium bodied ales, pilsner and lagers will stand up to the heavy foods without overpowering the flavors.

7. Simply matching the regions of foods and beers is oversimplification. Don’t choose a Corona just because you are eating tacos. Instead, pair a strong beer with a spicy dish.

8. Don’t be afraid to experiment based on what you know you like and don’t like. To really impress your friends, start a beer or wine journal to record your food and drink pairings. Keep track of how each food tastes while accompanied by a lighter drink or a heavier drink.

While these tips are just suggestions, don’t be afraid to stick with what you like. If you like Bud Light with your steak, drink Bud Light with your steak. Enjoy.


Claire Galvin is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus.   She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.