A beginner’s guide to food and wine pairing

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If you’re curious about what you eat and drink, then you might find yourself wondering what to drink with your favourite meals. We’ve created this article which includes our favourite tips and recommendations to create a helpful guide for anyone wanting to pair good wine and food. But don’t worry, it’s not all about strict rules – much of the best advice is based on good old-fashioned common sense! Don’t be afraid to break a rule if you find something you think works better. Be guided by your own taste buds; remember there’s no right or wrong answer.



At Bolney Wine Estate, we’re here to help you in your quest for the perfect pairings. We’ve built our new range around the best pairings of food and wine, including cheeses, sweets, fish and many other gastronomic delights. It shows the truth in the saying ‘if it grows together, it goes together’, and we’ve included some examples below.

Let’s begin with some handy tips.

Top five tips for food and wine pairing


1. Think about the main characteristics of the wine

Every wine has a structure, as does each type of food. Some wines have more tannins than others (they’re the ones which make your mouth feel a little drier), some are sweet, others acidic, or creamy. Try to identify the main characteristics of your wine – which grape is it from, and what is that grape well-known for tasting like? So, for example, fish goes well with wines that cleanse the palette and provide contrast, such as our fresh, fruity Lychgate Bacchus. A roasted meat dish, on the other hand, with dark fruit berry sauce, would suit a rich Cuvee Noir because the similar dark fruit flavours would make a complementary pairing between the wine, the sauce, and the roasted meat flavours.

2. Make sure the conditions are right

Remember to give your food and wine the best chance for their flavours to shine through and complement each other, by ensuring the conditions are right. For cheese, remove it from the fridge and let it warm slightly to release its flavours. Likewise, white wine should be taken from the fridge about 15 mins before drinking so it isn’t too cold; and red wine should be enjoyed just slightly below room temperature. Finally, try tasting your food and noting the main flavours; then sip your wine, followed by another taste of the food, to note how the flavours – and textures – have subtly changed.

3. Salty and spicy foods need special care

Salty foods need bold or acidic wines. Choose either wines which have good tannin levels (slightly drier wines) or go for acidic and fruity wines. The salts in the food will emphasise the fullness and body of wines. When it comes to spicy food and wine  pairing, try and avoid wines with a high alcohol content – these tend to make our mouths feel the chilli burn, even more, so try fresh, fruity wines or off-dry Pinot Gris. If your food is only slightly spicy, then you can risk a more full-bodied wine. We don’t recommend red wine with spicy foods as it accentuates the spice and can make the red wine tannic (bitter).

4. Sweet desserts need sweet(er) wines

Try to pair desserts with a wine which is equally – or more – sweet than the food. If the food is really sweet then you’ll need a sweet dessert wine  – such as this Sauternes, which is especially good with fruity puddings.

5. For creamy dishes either match the creaminess or try ‘clean’ wines

Creamy or oily foods go best with – you guessed it – creamy, buttery wines. Chardonnay is a great wine for this type of dish. But you can also go for a more lean, acidic white wine which will cut through the flavours and textures of fish and chips, for example.



Food that goes well with red wine


  • Lighter red wines – such as our award-winning Pinot Noir which isn’t too tannic and won’t overpower foods, go very well with pork, duck or rabbit – these will allow its elegance to shine through. For cheeses, it pairs perfectly with Sussex Brie.
  • Darker, more complex reds – such as our Lychgate Red, often have blackberry fruit flavours and earthier notes. These darker flavours contrast really well with the creamy, savoury and even sour notes of blue cheeses such as this Molecomb Blue. You could also try Dorstone Goat’s cheese.
  • Sparkling reds – this less common variety of sparkling wine such as our Cuvee Noir provides a really great accompaniment to fruit tarts, strawberries and cream or even cheese with red fruit chutney, thanks to rich fruit flavours and a hint of sweet spice.

White wine food pairing


  • Lighter white wines – our Estate Bacchus is a great example of this type of wine, and you’ll love it with white fish like Dover sole, as well as seafood and harder cheeses like Manchego.
  • Complex, fruity white wines – such as our Pinot Gris, pair very effectively with shellfish, sushi or lightly spiced Asian dishes. As for cheese, look no further than English Farmhouse Cheddar.
  • Sparkling whites – Our Blanc de Blanc (a sparkling white wine made with 100% Chardonnay) is great as an aperitif but versatile enough to be paired with a range of foods – shellfish, seafood, poultry, pork, strong cheeses, and smoked salmon. Blanc de Noirs is a sparkling white wine produced from black grapes. Its black-grape origins mean it goes well with richer dishes like leg of lamb with redcurrant jelly, as well as herby cheeses such as Brighton Blue. Also, try it with Spelt and Fig crispbreads. Finally, the Classic Cuvée is a blend of three grapes (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay) each adding their own character to the blend, making it perfect with fish – especially oily fish such as our Springs Smoked Salmon.


It’s always fun to create your own personal pairings and explore what works for you – but if you run out of time, or want to try some ready-paired selections, then our website now gives suggestions of the best food pairings with all our wines. We can’t wait for you to find your perfect partners in food and wine, with a little help from Bolney Wine Estate.