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Food and wine pairings, the next generation

Bloomy cheeses (such as Camembert, Brie or Époisses) Conventional pairing: red Burgundy. New pairing: oak-aged chardonnay from the New World. Reason: Diacetyl, found in the cheese, helps give butter and cheese its flavour, and oaky chardonnays taste buttery.

Blue cheeses (such as Stilton)

Conventional pairing: vintage port. New pairings: Sauternes, late-harvest gewurztraminer, fino or manzanilla sherry, or New World oaky chardonnay. Reason: a host of aromatic molecules and fatty acids that resonate with the wines. Port remains a good alternative, but try a relatively young, 15-year-old vintage.

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Roast pork

Conventional pairing: light-bodied red. New pairing: white wine aged on its lees (yeast sediment left over from fermentation), such as a roussanne from southern France, or an oak-aged white, such as a full-bodied California chardonnay. Reason: Pork is rich in lactones and so are the wines.

Braised beef

Conventional pairings: Barolo (a tannic, high-acid red from Italy) or, in the case of boeuf bourguignon, red Burgundy, which usually is light- or medium-bodied. New pairing: rich, voluptuous reds, such as grenache-syrah-mourvèdre blends from Australia, or an Italian Amarone. Reason: The wines' velvety texture will harmonize with the rich, saucy meat.


Conventional pairing: cabernet sauvignon. New pairing: grenache-syrah-mourvèdre blends from the Languedoc-Roussillon or Rhône Valley regions of southern France. Reason: Lamb shares aromatic compounds found in thyme; many southern French reds display notes of herbs. If the lamb is cooked with rosemary, try riesling; the pine-scented herb and wine both contain terpenes.


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Conventional pairing: sake. New pairing: semi-sweet riesling, such as a spatlese from Germany. Reason: "Sushi is complex," Mr. Chartier said. "There are a lot of different things in a sushi dinner - pickled ginger, wasabi, soy sauce. The best wine to manage all of that is a sweet wine, but not too sweet." Alternative: wheat beer.

Smoked salmon

Conventional pairings: Champagne or whisky. New pairing: oak-aged whites, especially oloroso or amontillado sherry. Reason: Smoked fish develops aromatic compounds found in charred wood barrels.


Conventional pairing (at least in Britain): lager. New pairing: aged white wine, such as a vin jaune from the Jura region of France or a Sauternes from Bordeaux or tokay from Hungary. As whites age in bottle (after, say, five years), they begin to develop the flavour of sotolon, a highly aromatic compound found in curry.

Spicy food (such as Thai)

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Conventional pairing: beer or cold water. New pairing: sweet or high-alcohol whites, such as California viognier or medium-sweet riesling. Reason: Carbonation fuels the fire, while sugar and alcohol (though ideally not over 14.5 per cent) will tame it. "You can't drink water, you cannot drink an acidic beverage, you cannot drink carbonated beverages," Mr. Chartier said. Alternative: sweet Nigori sake.


Conventional pairing: Italian red such as Chianti. New pairing: Depends on the toppings, but if you like green peppers, a cabernet franc such as a Chinon or Bourgueil from France's Loire Valley. Reason: The bell pepper and the wine are high in herbal compounds known as pyrazines.

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