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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is it true that we have to drink white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat?

—Sanjeev S., New Delhi, India

Dear Sanjeev,

The old adage of “red wine with meat and white wine with fish,” while easy to remember, is no longer considered gospel. These days, you’re more likely to hear, “Drink what you like, eat what you like.” But there are still guidelines that can help your wine pairing choice to be a sound one.

Here are today’s basic rules of pairing: do your best to match the weight and mouthfeel of the wine and food, balance their intensity, and try to either match flavors or counterbalance them. Intense foods call for intense wines. Red wines typically pair well with red meat because meat stands up to the tannins, but you can substitute rich, full-bodied whites. White wines tend to have more acidity than reds, which can counterbalance rich foods and cut through heavy notes, especially when a dish is served with a sauce or in a stew. I find it really depends on how a meat is prepared and what kind of sauce or side dish is served. For example, I might pair grilled salmon with a Pinot Noir, but I’d pair a poached salmon topped with a melon salsa with a Pinot Blanc.

You can learn more about matching wine with food in the Learn Wine section of our website.

—Dr. Vinny

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