mcguigan the shortlist bottle with food

A Guide to Food and Wine Pairing

It's hard to top the magic that happens when you're in excellent company enjoying fantastic food and sharing a delicious bottle of wine. This perfect combination has the power to transform a good night into an unforgettable one.

And guess what? You don't have to be a fancy sommelier or a renowned chef to make it happen. Anyone who loves food and wine can pull off a killer pairing.

To help you out, we’ve pulled together this handy guide to help you match the best wines with your favourite foods.

McGuigan wines with pasta salad and cheese

The Basics of Pairing Food and Wine

A truly sensational dish comes down to the perfect balance of flavours. The same principles apply when it comes to pairing wine with your meal.

However, there are two ways you can pair food and wines; by congruently pairing your food and wine or complementing them.

Congruent pairing

Congruent pairing is the art of matching food and wine with similar compounds or flavours. It's all about finding the perfect harmony between what's on your plate and what's in your glass.

Examples of delicious congruent pairings include a luscious sweet wine accompanied by a delectable dessert, an earthy Pinot Noir alongside a savoury mushroom dish, or the classic combination of a full-bodied and buttery Chardonnay served with a rich and creamy pasta dish.

The key to a congruent pairing is to find those shared elements and let them enhance each other, creating a cohesive and pleasurable dining experience.

Complementary pairing

Complementary pairings are when food and wine don't share similar compounds but still beautifully complement each other.

A classic example is pairing a juicy steak with a robust red wine that boasts tannins. Tannins, known for their astringent quality, work wonders in breaking down the richness of the meat and intensifying its flavours. But here's the magic: the fat in the steak acts as a tempering agent, softening the tannins and reducing that drying sensation in your mouth. As a result, the wine's fruity notes and other elements come to the forefront, leading to a more balanced and enjoyable experience on your palate.

Both congruent and complementary pairings can be excellent—it's all about the flavours you want to highlight and the experiences you want to evoke. Just ensure that the food or the wine don’t overpower each other. Enjoy the harmonious interplay of flavours and savour every sip and bite.

McGuigan Mastercraft Chardonnay with a charcuterie board containing cheese and crackers

Food and Wine Pairing Tips

What grows together, goes together.

It is conventional food and wine pairing wisdom that foods and wines with the same providence will have flavours that marry together. Classic examples of this include a nice Italian prosecco and parmesan or a goats cheese and Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre in France. Likewise, McGuigan Reserve Chardonnay harmonious flavour profile and freshness congruently pair well with richer meals such as decadent Mulloway fish pie from locally sourced South Australian fish.


Try swapping your well-known wine for a similar grape

While it is easy to have your favourite wines and return to them time and again, it can be eye-opening to try something new, as well as create a good conversation starter for your next dinner party. Why not try a different grape you’ve never heard of before? Or forgo the alcohol and enjoy an alcohol-free food and wine pairing. With the bright and lifted aromas of delicate grapefruits and strawberries, as well as the generous palate you’d expect of a Rosé, McGuigan Zero Chardonnay Alcohol-Free perfectly complements a summery Nicoise salad. Its crisp and refreshing finish can also congruently pair with pasta dishes that feature-rich, creamy feta cheese, as the food and wine pairing lifts the pasta up and makes it sing.


Tell a story with your pairing

Good dinner party stories can make or break your social gathering, and so too can the stories you tell with your food and wine pairing. You can transport yourself to the seaside when pairing a slightly briny Chablis and oysters, with the salt of the oyster making the wine sing. Or create a moody meal by mirroring the charred components of a dish with a Nerello Mascalese grown in volcanic soil. Whatever story you choose to tell, good food and wine pairing can make you stop and imagine you are on another continent entirely.


Keep an almost universal pairing wine on hand

It is always a good idea to have a wine up your sleeve, which pairs with basically any food. McGuigan Reserve Pinot Grigio is one such wine. With its crisp palate and well-balanced green flavours, the lemon blossom and apple notes can balance spicy Thai food with its acidity and sweetness as easily as they can complement the delicacy of sashimi.