How to Pair Wine with Food — Tips from a Sommelier

How to Pair Wine with Food — Tips from a Sommelier | Kaufmann Mercantile

Holmegaard Wine Carafe and Glassware (from $60)

Choosing the right bottle of wine to pair with your meal can feel like a colossal challenge — as does figuring out the perfect food to pair with that bottle of wine you’ve been waiting to open. You not only want one to complement the other, but you want them both to shine in their own right. Many times, we've found ourselves in the wine aisle looking at the seemingly countless bottles staring back at us, unsure of what exactly we should leave with — a situation that's occurred more times than we'd like to admit. 

We knew there had to be some general guidelines for making the right choice when choosing wines for upcoming dinners and holiday meals, so we decided to talk with a wine expert: Ashley Hernandez, a sommelier at Cincinnati’s 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab. She gave us the low-down on some pairings you can count on, as well as some specific craft wine suggestions. We discussed some popular wine styles and the best types of food to enjoy them with.

As a note: Some of the suggested wines may only be available in certain regions. To find a comparable, well-crafted wine, visit your local boutique or mom-and-pop wine shop.

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Ashley: “Riesling is quite a versatile grape to drink. Styles can range from really sweet to bone dry and can age for years. The best expressions I've had have come from its homeland Germany and Alsace, France — producers like Kruger Rumpf, Selbach, von Winning from Germany, and Kuentz-Bas from Alsace, France. 

Rieslings pair well with many food styles given their naturally high acid profiles. Riesling and Indian food with a good amount of spice is one of my personal go-tos. The natural aromatics of the riesling, coupled with the acid — and often slight residual sugar — make a perfect pair for spicy and aromatic Indian dishes.”


“Chardonnay, like Riesling, has quite a few expressions. It can be leaner and minerally, or richer and rounder with buttery notes. Producers I really like are Lioco from California, Jean-Marc Brocard from Chablis, and Domaine Daniel et Julien Barraud from Burgundy. 

Pairings can range from fresh seafood with leaner styles to buttery, creamy, sauced dishes. I'd recommend a spring vegetable linguine with a lemon cream sauce.”


“A couple of producers of Merlot I've enjoyed lately are Château Tire Pé and Château la Rame (this is a Merlot-dominated blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, which is typical for Bordeaux). 

I'd pair this wine with a hearty tomato and herb-sauced Ratatouille.”

Cabernet Sauvignon

Château Fontanès is a producer that I recommend for this grape. 

Enjoy this bottle with a bowl of vegetarian or regular chili. The jalapeños and spices of the dish will stand up well and complement what's in the glass.”

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Written by Dani Howell