ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Why is white meat served with white wine and red meat with red?

—Prajapati M., Gujarat, India

Dear Prajapati,

I think the old adage of “red with meat and white with fish” (or any variation of that theme) was most useful because it was easy to remember. These days, most folks agree that pairing wine with food is both more simple (eat and drink what you like) and more specific (do your best to match or contrast the specific flavors, weights and textures).

The reason red wine typically pairs well with red meat is that red wine tends to be higher in tannins. While on their own, tannins can feel drying, they’re a good complement to the rich fattiness that can be found in red meat. White wine can be better with fish or chicken because it tends to have higher acidity, and it complements food similarly to how a squirt of lemon juice can brighten a seafood dish.

But those are just general rules. If you look at how a dish is prepared—say, grilled vs. poached, or sautéed in a bunch of butter, or take into account the side dishes or the setting, you might come up with different pairings based on the situation. So while a chewy grilled steak might call for a robust red, a sautéed filet mignon served with béchamel sauce and rosemary potatoes might work better with a rich, full-bodied white.

While I’ve had some magical food and wine pairings, like Barolo and white truffles or a lovely Sauternes with foie gras, most of the time, it’s simply a matter of enjoying what’s in front of me and picking a wine I know I’ll like.

—Dr. Vinny


Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

MEMBER LOGIN

= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Free Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences

Classifieds

The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories