Pairing food and wine with a specialized menu and keeping up with wine trends will help boost your restaurant sales all-year-round.
Believe it or not, any kind of restaurant can have a wine and food pairing menu. Wine is more than a drink—it’s a flavor enhancer. Plus, offering a special menu presents numerous benefits to your restaurants. Offer the latest trending wines and pair them with ease.
- You can introduce new wines you purchased for the bar.
- Offer new wines and trendy pairings to bring in new customers.
- You can test out new dishes before including them on the regular menu.
- Timid wine drinkers may be encouraged to explore new grapes, and they may grow comfortable ordering bottles of wine.
- Wine and food pairing creates a special experience.
- You will have the opportunity to upsell more expensive wines.
The Fundamental Rules of Creating a Wine and Food Pairing Menu
If you are new to the idea, don’t be intimidated. Your business is to serve delicious flavors; when paired correctly, wine only enhances those flavors. Get into the kitchen with your team and start taste-testing. When your eyebrows lift and you go for another bite and a sip, you know you’re on the right path. Below, we share 14 food and wine matches that are always sublime.
- Pinot Noir – for earthy flavors
- A light-bodied red with a deeply savory quality, making it one of the most versatile wine selections for food pairing.
- Malbec – Barbeque
- Wine and food pairing menus aren’t just for classical European fare. Argentine Malbecs are famous for bringing out the flavors of a beefsteak because of undercurrent flavors of berry and plum. This warm sweetness can be paired with a tangy, sweet, or smoky barbeque sauce without being overshadowed.
- Champagne – Salted Dips and Vegetables
- Dry champagne is the perfect companion to salty or oily appetizers. Due to their subtle sweetness, you can pair just about any salty dish with champagne or Spanish Cava, even fried chicken.
- Sauterne – Foie Gras
- Without Sauterne, tasting foie gras is like eating a burger without ketchup. Sauterne, a sweet wine, is from the Bordeaux region in France. It’s a rare white grape that makes exceptional dessert wines and can age for decades. A chilled glass of the honeyed wine pairs perfectly with the fatty richness of foie gras. For a vegetarian option, Sauternes also couple well with ripe blue cheese.
- Cabernet Sauvignon – Dark Red Meat
- Cabernet Sauvignon wines have a complex flavor with many layers. Because of the firm tannins present, they are best paired with juicy, red meats, and umami flavors.
- Dry Rosé – Cheesy Richness
- It’s universally known that cheese paired with a robust red wine is a delightful dining experience. But a dish made with cheese is absolutely brought to life by a dry rosé. Its acidity is similar to white wines, but dry rosé has the robust character of a red. Black truffle risotto with parmigiana or a decadent four-cheese grilled cheese sandwich are the kinds of dishes that need a wine like this. Dry rosés cut through the richness of the cheese, refreshing the diner with each sip.
- Sauvignon Blanc – Tart or Acidic Sauces and Dishes
- Sauvignon blanc can range from a zesty lime flavor to that of a ripe peach, from extremely dry to deeply oaky. Yet across the board, you can count on any sauvignon blanc to work with tangy tastes, like citrus salad dressings.
- Chardonnay – Rich, Fatty Fish
- The flavor profile of a chardonnay ranges from zesty to oaky. The unoaked Chardonnay is similar to a pinot grigio, while the oaky wines can be like butter in a glass. Generally, a chardonnay goes with almost any light dish, but it’s a highlight with a delicious fatty fish, like salmon or sea bass.
- Pinot Grigio – Light Fish Plates
- Pinot Grigio’s subtle acidity buoys a gently seasoned seafood dish. Pair it with a whole white fish grilled and seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon for an easy menu offering.
- Syrah – Heavily Spiced dishes
- Austerely grilled and seasoned meats need only a deep Bordeaux to come alive, but things get more difficult when the meat is heavily seasoned. A Syrah is your best choice in this case. In general, a Syrah wine can be paired with any bold flavors, from aromatic herb blends to peppery sauces.
- Sancerre – Oysters
- Simple, salty, and satisfying. Oysters are a slice of the ocean, and only a Sancerre can be paired with them. It’s the one white wine that won’t detract from the simplicity of the oyster’s flavor profile. Sancerres are savory French wines from the Loire Valley (also home to many other beloved grape varieties, like champagne and Bordeaux), and are considered the Frenchman’s true white wine.
- Riesling – Asian Dishes
- Surprisingly enough, an off-dry Riesling or Vouvray tames the wild spices of Asian recipes. The same goes for Indian food. Chuck the classic cheese and wine pairing for appetizers, and include an Indian samosa with a Riesling.
- Chianti – Old-World Dishes
- Having developed together over the centuries, the wines and recipes of Old World regions such as Tuscany, Italy, are a natural fit. A slow-cooked beef Bolognese over pappardelle with a medium-bodied Chianti, for instance, is excellent food and wine pairing. Some would say that Chianti is as integral to Italian cooking as olive oil. It’s perfect with a plate of prosciutto and Spaghetti Pomodoro.
- Moscato d’Asti – Fruit Tarts and Dessert
- Dessert wines come in many varieties, but Moscato d’Asti wins for being the most popular. It’s a moderately sweet sparkling wine from Italy that’s known for its distinctive floral aroma. When paired with fruit desserts, the Moscato makes the fruit sparkle instead of the sugar, providing a refreshing close to a full and hearty meal.
Wine Trends to Watch
Serving wine in your restaurant means keeping up with the current wine trends is a must. Here’s what’s new in wine trends, and what’s coming soon.
While most would assume that wines are vegan, not all wines are. Consumers are more aware of this and are searching for vegan wines. Offer options with a vegan label to serve your customer’s needs, especially if you have a vegetarian or vegan menu.
You’re probably wondering why wines aren’t all vegan to start. Well, in the fining process, wines are clarified to remove tiny molecules like tartrates, tannins, and phenolics. Fining agents such as casein (milk protein) and gelatin (animal protein) act as a magnet to these particles, and make them easier to remove. Small traces of the fining agents can be absorbed in the wine through the fining process.
Research commissioned by Millésime Bio, a tradeshow that is devoted to organic wine, shows organic wine sales are on the rise and will continue to soar. They’ve estimated a 34% rise in organic wine consumption by 2023. Organic wines are not a new trend, but if you’re not offering them, you need to start. Consumers want everything organic, down to the wine they pair their favorite dish at your restaurant with. Orange wines are breaking out in the organic wine market and showing increased wine sales in nearly every market.
New Grape Varieties Due to Climate Change
Wine producing regions have released recent reports showing a decline in production due to climate change. Due to this, new grape varieties are being introduced to the market. Right now, vineyards in Europe are working on new combinations to combat their reduced production, which will bring about new wine types in the coming years.