Perfect Wine Pairings That Won't Drain Your Wallet

wine pairings


Finding exceptional wine pairings doesn't have to cost a fortune. If you have ever wondered how to enjoy delicious wine and food pairings without breaking the bank, the good news is that it's possible. You can indulge in high-quality wines and create fantastic combinations that won't break your budget. Understanding the basics of pairing wine with food can enhance your dining experience.

Let's uncover some great wines that go perfectly with the dishes you love and show you how to put together a wine collection that's kind to your wallet.

Understanding Wine Pairing Basics

Matching wine and food flavours is an art. The key is simply understanding the primary flavour profiles of wine and food. Wines can range from sweet to dry, light to full-bodied, and fruity to earthy. Similarly, foods can be savoury, sweet, spicy, or acidic. The goal is to balance these flavours where neither the wine nor the food overpowers the other. Here's what you need to know:

  • Acidic wines, like many white wines, are great with rich, fatty foods. They make your mouth feel fresh, so you can enjoy each bite like it's the first. For example, Chardonnay can enhance the flavours of grilled or roasted chicken.
  • Red wines often have tannins, which can feel a little dry or rough in your mouth. The wine's sharpness can cut through the richness of fatty foods, making it ideal for creamy pasta, fatty fish, and cheeses. Tannic red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon pair wonderfully with protein-rich foods like red meat. 
  • If you're having something sweet, your wine should be at least as sweet, or it might taste bitter. So, sweeter wines are usually a hit for desserts. Sweet wines also work well with spicy dishes.
  • Wines with a lot of alcohol can make spicy food taste even spicier. But a sweet wine can tame the heat. And a red wine that doesn't have too much alcohol can go really well with those spicy meals.

When you match up the right wine with your meal, they both bring out the best in each other, making your dining experience even more enjoyable.

Common Pairing Mistakes

When you're pairing wine with food, you'll want to watch out for a couple of slips that can mess up the taste. If you match a wine with lots of tannins with something spicy, it can crank up the heat and make the wine feel too dry. Also, if you pick a light, gentle wine and put it beside a dish with big, bold flavors, the wine might get lost and you won't taste its nice, subtle notes.

To avoid pairing hiccups, consider how strong or light your wine and your dish are. For lighter foods like salads or seafood, go with a lighter wine. If you're eating something heavier, like a steak off the grill, you'll want a stronger wine to match. Paying attention to this can really lift your meal and make it more enjoyable.

Red Wine Pairings

The Hidden Sea Red Blend 2019

The Hidden Sea Red Blend 2019 is a fantastic, budget-friendly wine that goes well with lots of different foods. It's a bold red that brings a mix of cherry, currant, and juicy berry flavours, with hints of vanilla and a toasty finish. Its smooth feel in your mouth and the sweet taste of the fruit make it a top pick for enjoying with all kinds of meals.

Ideal pairings include:

  • Grilled steak
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Hearty pasta

The wine's fruity profile can bring out the savoury flavours of these dishes, creating a balanced and enjoyable dining experience.

Pinot Noir: A Versatile Delight

Pinot Noir goes with a variety of meals. Think barbecue pork ribs, mushroom dishes, pepperoni pizza, grilled salmon, beet salad with goat cheese, and lamb chops. Pinot Noir's low tannins and tartness make it adaptable to delicate dishes, creamy sauces, fruit-based dishes, and earthy flavours. Pinot Noir comes in so many styles, each with a taste that reflects where it's from, and this gives you lots of choices for food pairings.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Steak and red wine are a classic match, and enjoying them doesn't have to break the bank. You can find reasonably priced red wines, such as a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, that pair delightfully with steak. The strong flavours of Cabernet can stand up to a meaty steak, enhancing its rich taste.

When picking out a red wine for your steak dinner, consider the meat's cut and how you cook it. A tender, lean cut like filet mignon works well with a lighter red, but a rich cut like a ribeye calls for a more powerful wine with tannins to match its flavour and texture.

Unexpected Pairings

Trying out unexpected food combinations can make your dining experience more exciting. For example, pairing Merlot with a mushroom and Swiss cheese burger can be a delightful surprise. The smooth texture and fruity flavours of Merlot can enhance the delicious taste of the burger, while the wine's subtle tannins help balance the richness of the cheese.

Other creative combinations include:

  • Zinfandel with barbecue ribs
  • Shiraz with spicy sausage

These combinations may not be traditional, but they can offer a unique and enjoyable dining experience that won't break the bank. So why not step outside the box and give them a try?

White Wine Pairings

Chardonnay and Chicken

Chardonnay is a versatile white wine that pairs exceptionally well with roasted or grilled chicken. The wine's balanced acidity and rich flavours can enhance the chicken's taste. When pairing Chardonnay with chicken, consider how the chicken is prepared and seasoned. A crisp, unoaked Chardonnay is a good match if the chicken is lightly seasoned and grilled. But if the chicken is roasted with herbs and garlic, an oaked Chardonnay with buttery notes will complement it nicely.

Pinot Grigio and Light Dishes

Pinot Grigio is a great wine choice for pairing with light dishes like seafood and salads. Its crisp acidity and bright fruit flavours make it a refreshing complement to the delicate flavours of these dishes. An affordable Pinot Grigio can elevate a simple seafood dish.

Ideal pairings for Pinot Grigio include:

  • Lemon shrimp pasta
  • Grilled fish
  • Fresh garden salads and greens

One unique combination you can try is pairing Pinot Grigio with honey goat cheese and baguette. This will give you a delightful mix of flavours. The sharpness of Pinot Grigio balances out the honey's sweetness and the goat cheese's creamy taste, creating a delicious and harmonious pairing.


Despite its association with luxury, pairing food with champagne doesn't have to stretch your budget. The key is to pick flavours that blend nicely with champagne's unique taste and fizz based on your pocket. Snack on almonds or olives, or enjoy richer appetizers like buttered popcorn or fried mushrooms, which complement champagne's zest. 

Seafood selections like shrimp or smoked salmon are also perfect matches. For meat lovers, the salty crunch of bacon or the savoury delight of fried chicken makes for an irresistible combination. Creamy pasta like mac & cheese welcomes the crispness of sparkling wine, while light desserts such as berries or angel food cake provide a sweet finish. The key is balancing the food's richness with the champagne's lively bubbles.

Ideal pairings for sparkling wines include:

  • Potato chips
  • Salty foods
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn

Wine and Cheese Pairings

You can enjoy delicious wine and cheese combos on a budget. One great pairing is Cabernet Sauvignon with aged cheddar. The cheese's fat balances out the wine's strong tannins, while its nutty flavours complement the dark fruit flavours. Generally, full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel pair perfectly with aged cheddars, enhancing the flavours and cleansing your palate.

Chardonnay with cheddar and cranberries is also worth trying together. The wine's balanced acidity and rich flavours beautifully complement the sharpness of cheddar and the sweetness of cranberries, creating a delightful mix of tastes.

Different wine and cheese pairings can add excitement and creativity to your dining experience. Other exciting options include Sauvignon Blanc with feta cheese or rosé wines with brie. These combinations offer a memorable and enjoyable dining experience that's not too pricey.

Final Thoughts

Finding the right wine for your meal doesn't mean you have to spend a lot. Understanding the basics of wine and food pairing can help you a lot. Figure out which flavours go well together and dodge common slip-ups. Stay open to testing new combos. Keep in mind that the fun in wine is in the experience, not how much it costs. So why not dive in now? The best wine, after all, is the one you love drinking with your favourite dishes.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published