There are no rules when it comes to wine and food

By / Magazine / September 5th, 2019 / 3

Wine and food can be sources of incredible pleasure. They both translate people, place, culture and history, while making wonderful partners with their ability to make each other better. There are certain classic pairings (e.g., French fries or caviar with Champagne, oysters with Muscadet) that can induce mouth-gasms, but problems arise when people agonize over achieving a “perfect” pairing and fret over making a mistake.

The first rule of wine and food pairing is to throw out the rules. Most were established decades ago by stodgy, old white dudes accustomed to a diet of meat and potatoes, and who either ignored or were oblivious to the existence of any sort of ethnic cuisine. The “rules” were also established at a time when there wasn’t the vast variety and diversity of grape varieties and styles so readily available. Without question, the overall quality of wine currently being produced around the world is at an all-time high.

Those who made the rules never considered lamb kebabs or beef rendang or fish moilee or manakeesh or chana masala or Peking duck or eating family style with numerous dishes simultaneously on the table (as is the norm in so many cultures).

When these flavours and cuisines became more widespread, they were often pigeonholed with one style of wine (off-dry Riesling is not the sole wine partner for Asian cuisine and Gewürztraminer is, in my opinion, one of the worst matches with Indian cuisine).

With today’s style of eating, wine and food should be less about pairing one wine with one dish and more about drinking versatile, well-balanced, food-friendly wines with a broader range of flavours and dishes. Multiple dishes with one wine (or multiple wines with multiple dishes) can provide different, yet still pleasurable, experiences.

Food and wine are meant to be fun and experimentation often results in finding exceptional pairings that you may not have expected. Keep an open mind, try lots of wines with lots of different types of food with lots of people and free yourself of the stress of achieving the “perfect” match. And politely tell anyone who tries to impose their self-restricting rules on you to keep their antiquated opinions and palates to themselves. Or better yet, encourage them to go beyond their comfort zone. They might just thank you.


Editor-in-chief for Quench Magazine, Gurvinder Bhatia left a career practising law to pursue his passion for wine and food. Gurvinder is also the wine columnist for Global Television Edmonton, an international wine judge and the president of Vinomania Consulting. Gurvinder was the owner/founder of Vinomania wine boutique for over 20 years (opened in 1995, closed in 2016) which was recognized on numerous occasions as one of the 20 best wine stores in Canada. Gurvinder was the wine columnist for CBC Radio for 11 years and is certified by Vinitaly International in Verona Italy as an Italian Wine Expert, one of only 15 people currently in the world to have earned the designation. In 2015, Gurvinder was named by Alberta Venture Magazine as one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People. He is frequently asked to speak locally, nationally and internationally on a broad range of topics focussing on wine, food, business and community.

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