Wine and Food Pairing

The art of food and wine pairing

By Halliday Wine Companion

11 Jun, 2018

Learn the basics of wine and food pairing, browse wine and recipe suggestions, and bend the rules to come up with your own, individual approach.

There’s nothing better than matching your wine to a beautiful meal and good company. The enjoyment of food and wine is enhanced as much by the experience and those you choose to share it with as it is by choosing a pitch-perfect combination. 

With wine and food pairing, it’s important to think of it as more of an art than an exact science. The ‘rules’ aren’t hard and fast, but there are some general guidelines that will provide you with a good foundation to riff off and find with your own, idiosyncratic approach. It might seem simple to say, but the best wine pairings are the ones that you enjoy! So if for you that means washing down a block of chocolate with a bottle of red, then that’s perfectly okay (read more about chocolate and wine pairing).  

All of that said, if you want to get technical about food and wine pairing, you can. Sommeliers have the skills to guide you in restaurants and with this list of quick tips, you can bring that expert know-how home. 

We have even more insights from James Halliday ahead, providing some ideas for what accompaniments might work with your wine.

Importantly, have fun! Pairing food with wine doesn’t have to be a head spin. Do you love the combination you’ve come up with? Does the food taste good and the wine have you reaching for more? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of those questions, then you’re on the right track. 

Seasonal food and mine matching
by James Halliday

Oysters, cold crustacea, tapas, any cold hors d'oeuvres 
Caesar salad, trout mousse 
Young Riesling
Cold salads, sashimi 
Young Pinot Noir
Seared kangaroo fillet, grilled quail 
Pastrami, warm smoked chicken
Young Semillon
Antipasto, vegetable terrine 
Young Medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon
Rack of baby lamb
Pinot Gris, Colombard
Crab cakes, whitebait 
Light- To Medium-bodied Cool Climate Shiraz
Rare eye fillet of beef
Verdelho, Chenin Blanc
Cold smoked chicken, gravlax 
Young Botrytised Wines
Fresh fruits, cake
Mature Chardonnay
Grilled chicken, chicken pasta, turkey, pheasant 


Chilled Fino
Cold consommé
Young Light-bodied Pinot Noir
Grilled salmon
2-3-year-old Semillon
Aged Pinot Noir (5+ Years)
Coq au vin, wild duck
2-3-year-old Riesling
Seared tuna
Young Grenache/Sangiovese
Osso bucco
Young Barrel-fermented Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
Seafood or vegetable tempura
Mature Chardonnay (5+ Years)
Braised rabbit
Young Off-dry Riesling
Prosciutto & melon/pear
Hunter Valley Shiraz (5-10 years)
Beef spare ribs
Cool-climate Chardonnay
Abalone, lobster, Chinese-style prawns
Saltimbocca, roast pheasant
10-year-old Semillon or Riesling
Braised pork neck
Medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon (5 Years)
Barbecued butterfly leg of lamb
Mature Chardonnay
Smoked eel, smoked roe
All Wines
Off-dry Rosé
Chilled fresh fruit


Warm consomme
Aged Pinot Noir
Grilled calf's liver, roast kid, lamb or pig's kidneys
Barrel-fermented Mature Whites
Smoked roe, bouillabaisse
Mature Margaret River Cabernet Merlot
Lamb fillet, roast leg of lamb with garlic and herbs
Complex Mature Chardonnay
Sweetbreads, brains
Cool Climate Merlot
Lamb loin chops
Fully Aged Riesling
Chargrilled eggplant, stuffed capsicum
Mature Grenache/rhone Blends
Moroccan lamb
Aged Marsanne
Seafood risotto, Lebanese
Rich, Full-bodied Heathcote Shiraz
Beef casserole
Southern Victorian Pinot Noir
Peking duck
Young Muscat
Plum pudding


Dry Oloroso Sherry
Full-flavoured hors d'oeuvres
Mature Pinot Noir
Mushroom ragout, ravioli
Sparkling Burgundy
Mature Merlot
Pot au feu
Pea and ham soup
10-year-old Heathcote Shiraz
Char-grilled rump steak
Aged (10+ Years) Semillon
Vichysoisse (hot) 
15-20-year-old Full-bodied Barossa Shiraz
Venison, kangaroo fillet
Sauvignon Blanc
Coquilles St Jacques, pan-fried scallops
Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
Braised lamb shanks/shoulder
Mature Chardonnay
Quiche Lorraine
Muscat (Old)
Chocolate-based desserts
Chardonnay (10+ Years)
Tokay (Old) 
Creme brûlée
Mature Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
Seafood pasta 
Vintage Port
Dried fruits, salty cheese 
Young Tasmanian Pinot Noir
Squab, duck breast