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20 Wine Pairings to Try Before You Die

Some people think matching specific wines and foods is an exercise in snobbery. But these extraordinary pairings will make you a complete convert—even if the combination is as off-the-wall as Pinot Noir and a bag of Doritos.

Fino Sherry

Timeless Pairing

Almonds—if Spanish marcona almonds are on hand, even better

Maverick Match

Goat cheese, especially tangy, ripened ones like Humboldt Fog

Rich Chardonnay

Timeless Pairing

Lobster with drawn butter, a classic pairing of rich with even richer

Maverick Match

Grilled butterflied leg of lamb sounds unlikely, but it works

slideshow Plus: Chardonnay Pairings

Sauvignon Blanc

Timeless Pairing

Light white fish—for instance, sole—in a light, citrusy sauce

Maverick Match

Pizza with anchovies—the salty, oily fish demands a crisp white

slideshow Plus: Sauvignon Blanc Pairings


Timeless Pairing

Poached trout—like Riesling, it's an Alsatian classic

Maverick Match

Cold cucumber soup and other vegetal flavors are great with Riesling

slideshow Plus: Off-Dry Riesling Pairings

California Pinot Noir

Timeless Pairing

Roast duck, grouse, pheasant or any other flavorful game bird

Maverick Match

Doritos—somehow that corny, salty crunch works with the wine

slideshow Plus: Pinot Noir Pairings


Timeless Pairing

Caviar, but scrambled eggs with black truffles are a close second

Maverick Match

An earthy, dry-aged steak, best with a rich style like Bollinger

slideshow Plus: Champagne Pairings


Timeless Pairing

Foie gras, which is wonderful with almost any sweet white wine

Maverick Match

Swedish meatballs that have a good, peppery edge to them


Timeless Pairing

Short ribs braised in Amarone or a less-pricey Valpolicella

Maverick Match

Parmesan with honey—Amarone maker Sandro Boscaini swears by it

Cabernet Sauvignon

Timeless Pairing

SteakCabernet's tannins cut the richness of the meat

Maverick Match

Sautéed calves' liver with Bordeaux, because Julia Child says so

slideshow Plus: Cabernet Sauvignon Pairings


Timeless Pairing

Barbecued pork—rich, red Zinfandel loves sweet-spicy foods

Maverick Match

Chicken mole poblano—the chile's fruitiness matches Zinfandel's

More Pairing Tips:

Published April 2010


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