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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Mea culpa: I don't like red wine! Can you suggest a white wine that goes with red meat? Or is this a wine faux pas?

—John B., Conception Bay South, Newfoundland

Dear John,

The old adage of "red wine with meat and white wine with fish" is out. These days, you're more likely to hear, "Drink what you like, eat what you like."

Whether you're talking about red, white, rosé or sparkling wine, follow the basic rules of pairing: Do your best to match the weight and texture of the choices, balance the intensity, and either try to match flavors or counterbalance them. Intense foods call for intense wines. Red wine with meat works well because meat stands up to the tannins in red wine. But you can substitute rich, full-bodied whites, such as Chardonnay, Alsace-style Pinot Gris, and Viognier, which can also do well with meat.

White wine has one thing going for it that reds often don't: acidity. This zingy, mouthwatering element will counterbalance rich foods and cut through heavy elements. Try Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or dry-style Riesling when meat is served in a sauce or stew. And don't rule out wines with a touch of sweetness. I love spicy food, such as Indian curries and spicy Mexican dishes, with off-dry Rieslings and Gewürztraminers. And sparkling wines, especially young, nonvintage styles, go well with a wide array of foods.

The biggest challenge with white wines is that some of them can be very oak-dominated, and those flavors often conflict with food (unless you like to chew on toothpicks). If you're totally at a loss for what to try, have some fun pairing the nationality of a dish with whites from that region.

—Dr. Vinny

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