Most Difficult Foods to Pair with Wine

Most Difficult Foods to Pair with Wine

There are a few foods that seem to puzzle the best of us when it comes to pairing with wine. There are scientific reasons why some flavours clash with your favourite tipple, but it does not mean a match is impossible! 


Artichokes are notoriously difficult to pair with wine. This is due to a naturally occurring compound called cynarin, which essentially makes everything taste sweet. When you drink wine with artichokes, the cynarin enhances any natural sweetness in the wine, which is why we recommend dry styles with high acidity that can help balance the flavours. The Carlos Moro Finca Las Marcas 2017 is a classically clean & crisp Verdejo with a touch of salinity, making it an excellent match to artichokes. For a red, we recommend trying the Domain Alain Gueneau Sancerre Rouge 2018 where the increased perception of sweetness will bring out the fruit in the relatively savoury wine.

Asparagus is another vegetable that is typically regarded as a foe when matching with wine. Due to high levels of Chlorophyll, it has strong green flavours that tend to make wines taste metallic and harsh. Just as with any other food, it depends on how it is cooked and what it is served with. Generally speaking, a crisp & dry Sauvignon Blanc or Gruner Veltliner would work well when balancing the green notes of asparagus. If you are grilling or serving with salmon, the Tar & Roses Pinot Grigio 2019 would make an excellent choice. If serving with a cream sauce, a Chablis Premier Cru or a lightly baked white like the Croix Belle N.7 Blanc 2017, will cut through the richness of the dish, as well as complement the asparagus.
Indian Takeaway

We all love a great Indian takeaway, but the bold & spicy flavours tend to puzzle most people when it comes to finding a suitable wine to pair with. If you are a fan of a creamy, mild curry, it will demand a strong flavoured wine with enough acidity to balance the spice and cream. As such, the Osterberg Riesling 2016 would be an excellent match! If the curry is tomato-based with a much spicier element, the 2009 Cave de Ribeauville, Les Clos Du Zahnacker will work great, thanks to its bold yet dry palate. For a Tandoori chicken that tends to be smokey in flavour, a rich yet lighter red would pair nicely. The 2013 Castra Rubra, Nimbus is a heavier style of pinot noir with enough fruit to complement the smokiness.  If you are a fan of Italian wines, the 2017 Domenico Fraccaroli, Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore would also work really well.

Smoked Food

The pairing will depend on what has been smoked, but in general, the smoking process adds extra layers of flavour, which demands a more powerful wine to match. For smoked meat or a powerful BBQ sauce, powerful aged reds like the Bodegas Monteviejo Lindaflor Malbec 2013 or Chateau La Tour Figeac 2014 would work really well. If you are serving a side of smoked-salmon, we recommend a light, yet flavoursome red wine, like the Domaine des Perdrix Bourgogne 2018. For smoked salmon accompanying brunch, a punchy rose like Domaine de la Croix Belle 2019 or a vibrant champagne like the Charles Legend Brut Royal NV would be excellent!

Pairing chocolate with wine can be a tricky business, and a few things need to be considered: the type of chocolate and the percentage of coco, whether it is served hot or cold (cold tends to be easier for pairing) and whether there are other ingredients to match with (nuts, dried fruits etc.). Generally speaking, the wine should be sweeter than the chocolate, so the bitter tannins of our coco treat is balanced out. The Vin Santo 2012 from Tenuta Fanti is an excellent choice with pairing darker chocolate that may also contain nuts, or a spice element like cinnamon. For a richer chocolate dessert that is served warm, the Kopke 10yr Tawny Port would be a delightful option. Lighter chocolatey desserts would be perfect with a Sauternes. Another option is to skip the chocolate altogether and enjoy your favourite sweet wine!