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.

By Ray Isle
Updated June 15, 2017

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

Plus: Chardonnay Pairings

Pop Quiz

How many wineries are there in California (as of 2009)?

    • A. 677
    • B. 3,047
    • C. 5,019

    Plus: 15 Rules for Great Wine and Food Pairings

      Answer: B

        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

        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

        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

        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

        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

        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:

        Perfect Wines for Any Meal

        America's Pairing Meccas

        10 Ultimate Wines for Dinner Parties

        5 Best Wine Bars for Pairing Practice

        The Wine Stands Alone

        Sipping Without Spilling