Your winter wine and food pairing guide

Pairing wine and food can be tricky. Picture: Pexels (Rachel Claire)

Pairing wine and food can be tricky. Picture: Pexels (Rachel Claire)

Published May 25, 2021


Winter is here! Gone are the days of fresh seafood and light curry paired with crisp chenin blanc and fruity sauvignon.

Pairing wine and food is not always the easiest thing to do. Whether preparing a dinner for a special occasion or just a meal with friends, wine and food pairings can be a challenge.

In restaurants, at least in the better ones, wine recommendations are usually made by a professional sommelier, someone who knows both the wine list and menu intimately.

Wine expert Gosia Young of Gosh! Wine Marketing says you can ruin a great meal with a bad wine pairing.

“Just like a great chef considers every element of their dish, so a great winemaker does the same when crafting their wine. Some delicate wines are destined for light, nuanced dishes while other, bigger wines can stand up to the bolder and heartier fare. The intentions need to match up. The trick is knowing what type of wine pairs best with certain types of food.

“The simple rule of thumb dictates that light, more delicately flavoured food works better with lighter wines like white wine, rosé, or a light red such as a pinot noir. Likewise, heavier foods like red meat go wonderfully well with full-bodied red wines.

“This is because red wine has a higher tannin content than white wine and the astringency of the tannins helps cut through the fat in the meat, acting as a palate cleanser. The fattier the meat – like sirloin or rib-eye – the bolder you can go with the wine choice,” says Young.

So, it’s time to whet your palates, and raise your wine glasses – these winter food and wine pairings are ready to blow you away, whether you are dining at home or treating yourself to dinner at a restaurant.


Rosé isn’t just a summer wine. Kick the stereotype to the curb and pop a bottle of pink wine in winter. Choose a rosé that’s redder in flavour, signalling bolder flavours perfect for cold weather.

Pair your delicious glass with milder dishes: salmon fillet, chicken stew, and roast beet salad are all matches made in heaven for pink wine.

Cabernet sauvignon

Red wine season is officially here. Make the most of it by grilling strip steaks with rosemary butter and enjoying them with a big, bold cabernet sauvignon. Chilled tomato soup also goes well with cabernet sauvignon.

Pinot noir

A lush and spicy style of pinot noir will greatly enhance the earthy, meaty flavours of any mushroom dish.


A creamy chicken stroganoff (preferably with bacon and chanterelle mushrooms) is a light yet hearty winter meal.

Pair with a merlot that has gentle tannins for an unforgettable flavour combination.


When in doubt about dinner, go with pan-seared steak with sea salt and black pepper. A dark, fruity pinotage will make the ideal accompaniment to the saltiness.

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