Wine isn’t exactly the easiest subject to get started in. Countless varieties, flavors, textures, colors, regions, and styles are fractioned off into price ranges and — sometimes the hardest — pairings. There’s just often too much to handle when it comes to wine.

Does a red wine go with this? What’s a light fruity dish to go with this white? What should I serve at my party? These are all questions that countless people will tell you different answers to because of the diversity of the subject itself and the variety. Everyone has different tastes. What pairs well to you may not with someone else.

What can be argued, however, are the basics of how to pair wine, and what should pair well with certain dishes. Let’s go over a few dinner pairings.

Firstly, let’s start with a steak. Good steaks should be accompanied by good wine, but the question remains to which one. Science has narrowed it down a bit, but the rest is up to your palate.

Red wines contain a high number of tannins, which create the signature dry taste associated with reds. Steaks high in fat pair well with hearty red wines because the fat in steaks actually helps reduce the effectiveness of the tannins. Essentially, the fats absorb them. Leaner steaks, such as filet mignon, go well with lesser body reds whereas fattier steaks, such as ribeye, can handle heavier wines.

For those of you who want a good dinner to pair a red with, but are of the vegetarian perspective, not to worry. Although some may think light vegetable pair better with white wines, a red can be successfully paired with the right flavor combination. Try cooking your vegetables in more seasonings that give meat it’s signature savory flavor. The strong flavors of seasoning accompany well with a nice medium-bodied red. Again, vegetarian dishes with more fat give the tannins in red something to absorb into. Go crazy with the beans, if you have to!

Other dinner meals can follow these basic guidelines. Wine pairing is based on the medley of flavors. If your dish, such as a delicate grilled fish, is very subtle in its flavors, then so should your wine. Try a nice crisp Chardonnay. If you’re leaning to heavier, dominant flavors, then you could pair a heavier, more dominant wine. The key here is balance and keeping the flavors in mind.

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