Are you 21
or older?

You must be 21 or older to enter. Please Drink Responsibly

Empire is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Drug Free Workplace.

Wine and Food Pairing Guide

One of the great things about wine is what it brings to the table. Wines have an affinity for many different foods and cuisines and can really turn a simple meal into something special. With the holiday season upon us, here are a few suggestions to help ease the holiday stress and fill your cup with cheer this season!

Traditional Rules

While there are a few traditional “rules,” it is important to remember to drink what you like. The general rule of thumb is ‘white wine with fish’ and ‘red wine with meat’. Due to the delicate nature of white wines and most fish dishes, they work well together. The wines will not overpower the food and vice versa. This is the same reason why meat is generally served with red wines—their flavors tend to be much more pronounced. However, there will always be exceptions to every rule. As a chef once said, “Think of wine as a sauce or a condiment, as opposed to a beverage—and apply it to food that way!”

Structural Components of Wine

The structural components of wine have a strong impact on wine and food pairings. White wines tend to have higher natural levels of acid than reds. As a result, white wines pair well with dishes that might have a bit of fat in the preparation. The higher acidity in white wine works well with dishes that may contain acid and it helps to make salty flavors less pronounced. White wines also tend to work great with produce and vegetables, like salads.

Red wines have naturally occurring tannins, which help to break down protein, hence the idea of ‘red wine with meat.’ Red wines that have seen maturation in oak barrels tend to take on richer flavors that also work better with heartier foods and preparations. Similar to that of white wine, tannins also work well with fat.

Some of the component parts of wine may actually get in the way of what you are eating. Wines that are higher in alcohol (above 14.5%) do not work well with spicier foods. The heat of the dish can make the alcohol seem more pronounced and throw the wine out of balance. Red wines may have a slightly mettalic taste when paired with shellfish. Overall, pairings work best when they help to bring flavors out of both the food and wine. Pairings can either build on flavors or be a “tension and release” approach, like how oil and vinegar work for a salad dressing.

Wine and Food Pairings

Many famous wine regions have regional dishes from their area that pair beautifully with the area’s wines. The winemakers are eating the local food and the farmers and chefs are drinking the local wines so it creates a reciprocal scenario in which “what grows together goes together.” Although white wines are generally paired with lighter dishes and red wines are paired with heartier fare, it is important to keep in mind that the preparation of the food will have a dramatic effect on flavors, as will sauces and other components of the meal.

Ready to find items your customers will love?
Click the button below to visit Empire’s online portfolio!*

*Please note: Linked products are subject to market availability and pricing. Contact your sales rep for more distributor information about these items.

Sample our

Reach out with any questions you may have to see just how responsive, knowledgeable and downright friendly an Empire Representative can be.

Making a positive impact

Empire approaches our corporate social responsibility as a labor of love. We’re deeply committed and actively involved in uplifting the well-being of our Teammates, Communities and Business Partners because we enjoy making a difference.

That’s why we’re a proud supporter of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.

Learn More