The Beginners’ Guide To Pairing Food & Wine

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The beginners’ guide to pairing food and wine

Here at Saros Bar + Dining we can’t think of a better way to catch up with friends and family, then over a good meal and shared bottle of wine. Whether it’s crisp white wine paired with a light summer meal, or robust merlot to compliment a heart family dish, pairing your food and wine together is the best way to bring out the flavours and tasting notes of both your meal and chosen glass.

So whether you’re celebrating an occasion, trying to impress someone special, or simply just catching up with old friends, we’re here to help make pairing your food and wine easy with our beginners guide. And if you’re planning on joining us here at Saros for dinner, we’ve taken the guess work out and paired some of our favourite wines with our delicious share plates and mains.

 A quick glossary of wine terms that you may come across:

  • Acidity: Present in all grapes and plays an important part in the preservation of the wine. Wines that have higher levels of acidity are often described as having a sharper and more crisp taste
  • Body: A term used to describe the flavour profile of a wine. For instance a full-bodied wine is one with a powerful flavours and a strong aftertaste
  • Dry: Wine that normally consist of very little to no sugars
  • Tannin: a chemical compounds found in the skin, seeds, and stems of grapes which can sometimes be incorporated in the aging of the wood barrels

 Tip 1. Are you choosing a complimentary or congruent pairing?

When pairing food and wine, it’s important to understand that there are two main pairing methods: complimentary pairing and congruent pairing.

The method that most people think of is complementary pairing, where by you choose a wine that that will compliment your food. The wine and food will have differing flavour profiles, which in turn contrast and balance each other. For example, by pairing a salty dish with a white wine, the saltiness from the food will reduce the sweetness of the wine and bring out its’ fruity notes and aromas.

The second method of pairing food and wine is congruent pairing, where by you match a pairing based on their similarities and shared flavour profiles. This could be as simple as pairing a sweet wine with a sweet dish, or a bold red wine with a rich heavy past dish. Many find this an easier way of pairing their meals, but just make sure that your wine choice doesn’t become overwhelmed by the flavours of the food.

Tip 2. Look beyond the main ingredient and consider the whole dish

Many beginners start with simple pairing like red meat goes with a glass of red, while poultry and seafood are best paired with a white wine. And while this a good starting point, it is important to look past the main ingredient of a dish. Has the red meat been grilled and served with fresh and bright flavours like a Vietnamese beef salad? Or has it been cooked as part of a rich hearty beef ragu served with pasta or polenta? Are you eating a light grilled fish, or a heavier Sri Lankan fish curry?

Take into account all features of the dish including the sauce, cooking methods, and sides.

 Tip 3. Keep food and wine at a similar weight

Once you understand the dish as a whole you can start thinking about its weight – and by weight we don’t mean its actual physical weight, but more the overall feeling of the dish.

Lighter food, which is generally lower in fat, like grilled chicken and fish, should be paired with lighter and more delicate white wines. In contract heavier foods, like rich meat casseroles and pasta dishes are often better paired with full-bodied wines like a Shiraz. For medium-weight dishes like prawn, it’s best to opt for a complimenting chardonnay.

The beginner’s pocket guide to food and wine pairing

An easy reference to help guide you if you’re cooking at home, or visiting us here at Saros Bar + Dining.

Dish Profile Suggested Wine Saro’s Pairing
Earthy foods such as mushrooms and truffles Pinot noir Giant Steps Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley VIC, 2019


Vension and wild mushroom risotto

Light and zingy dressings and tart dishes Light and clean Sauvignon Blanc Hawkesbridge Reserve Sauv Blac Marlborough NZ, 2018
+King fish ceiche marinated in lime, fish sauce, and palm sugar.
Juicy red meat such as steak or lamb cutlets Full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon First Creek Botanica Cab Sauv, Hunter Valley 2018
Fire grilled wagyu skewers with honey chipotle  marinade
Cheese boards Rose


* Some whites go well with some cheeses, and other with red wine – but all will blend perfectly with a Rose

La La Land Pinot Noir Rose, Murray Darling , 2017


Seasonal cheese board with soft, hard, and blue hsse, quince jam, dried fruits and nuts.

Lightly flavoured seafood dishes such as prawns or scallops Light whites such as Pinot Grigio or Chablis. Casa Lunadi Pinot Grigio, Italy, 2018
+Freshly shucked Pacific oysters with lime and gin vinaigrette
Salty Snacks Champagne Chandon Brut, Yarra Valley


House marinated mixed olives

Fatty fish (such as salmon) or seafood served in a thick, luscious sauce Full bodied chardonnay. Toolangi Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, 2018


Blue Swimmer crab linguine

Mediterranean coated meats (cumin, paprika and the like). A red wine with a hint of spicy-ness (such as a Syrah) Delly’s La Petitie Syrah, Pyrenees VIC, 2016


Smokly lamb cutlet with olive coil, turmeric, cumin, and

Spicy dishes Dry Riesling Avon Brae Riesling, Eden Valley SA, 2018


Grilled calamari with chilli lime, and nam jim sauce

Sweet desserts Moscato Brookhill Moscato, SA, 2018
Mango parfait with coconut ice cream and season fruit