Just in time for your Valentine’s Day dinner planning, I’ve found this handy infographic. Although I don’t claim to be a wine-pairing expert, in my experience the chart’s pretty accurate. I especially like how each type of food has more than one option, because wine pairing is not really cut and dry. For example, I tend to heavily favor the red wine spectrum on this chart, while the sweet white wines are entirely off my radar. But that’s just my personal preference. The only hard and fast rule when it comes to wine is to drink what you like and not worry about any other rules you might be breaking.
At the bottom of the chart is a small row of foods that are difficult to pair with wine. I’d like to add two more general categories to that list: soups and salads. Soups make an odd companion to wine because they’re already liquid, and a hot one at that, so a chilled wine (yes, even reds should be served slightly cool) can be a strange match. For salads, the vegetables aren’t the problem, it’s the acidic dressing, which can throw off the taste of the wine. (This effect can happen with any acidic dish, really, so it also applies to heavy-handed use of lemon, for example, in chicken, pasta, roasted vegetables, risotto, etc.) The solution is to either (a) make your own dressing from scratch, so you can control the level of acid and reduce it accordingly, or (b) stick with your planned dressing, but counteract it with an acidic wine, which will end up tasting fruity and brighter. Personally, I prefer option b, and a fun Valentine’s Day science experiment would be to try the wine both before and after tasting the acidic dish and observe how the flavor changes. It’s nerdy and romantic!