Unexpected Red Wine Food Pairings
6 MIN READ
We all know not to judge a book by its cover. But what about a dish?
It’s easy to pine after a wine and cheese board. After all, those flavors are made for each other. But there’s no way buffalo wings and a glass of Zinfandel can make a tasty pair... right?
Wrong. While we love pairing red wine with a rich, juicy steak, there are dozens of less-known food pairings that work wonders with a bold glass of red.
Read through our list of seven surprising pairings to discover an unexpected snack soulmate for your favorite bottle of red wine.
Buffalo Wings and Zinfandel
We’re starting this list off strong with sweet fruit flavors and plenty of spice — an order of buffalo chicken wings and a fruity glass of Zinfandel make a surprisingly delicious pair. The acidity and heat of buffalo sauce make an unexpected, vibrant complement to the fruity bouquet of a quality Zinfandel.
If you passed on buffalo and instead baked up a batch of barbeque wings, even better — the floral fruitiness in your favorite glass of Zin accentuates the striking sweetness of a delicious barbeque glaze.
Burgers and Beaujolais
Maybe less surprising than a marriage of buffalo sauce and Zin, a juicy burger is a natural red wine pairing. After all, ground beef is fatty red meat and it probably deserves more than a Solo cup of soda for company.
A chilled glass of Beaujolais red presents a perfect balance of rich earthiness, high acidity, and vibrant fruit aroma. Make sure to chill the bottle to a cellar temperature before serving to get the most from your vino and your wine snacking session.
And don’t be afraid to top your burgers with a tall stack of bold cheeses and sauces — trust us, a top Beaujolais can tango with any cheesy partner.
If you’re opting for lighter patty meat such as lamb, reach for a cru Beaujolais. This variety brings the best of Beaujolais, infusing more structure and tannins while maintaining the bold fruity flavors and earthy center.
Lambrusco and Pepperoni Pizza
Whether you’re munching on a simple slice of frozen or a top pie of artisanal ingredients, any pepperoni pizza will thank you for pairing it with its Italian cousin, Lambrusco.
This earthy, sparkling wine is packed with bright acidity and effervescent bubbles that make a natural pair to the rich, creamy melted cheese and spicy meat flavors in a slice of pepperoni.
Of course, make sure to serve your glass slightly chilled and swirl before each sip to allow the dark cherry aromas to breathe.
If you’re feeling up for it, pack more meat onto your slice of pizza. Lambrusco loves the cured, smoked quality of sausage, salami, and prosciutto. Even a meat-lovers pizza could be considered sophisticated if paired with a quality Lambrusco.
Pinot Noir and Chocolate Ice Cream
We pair wine with chocolate. We pair wine with milky cheese. Why not pair with chocolate ice cream?
In general, when pairing wines with desserts, you’re advised to avoid high-tannin wines. That’s why a relatively low-tannin Pinot Noir makes a great pair with chocolate ice cream. The glass of red acts like a natural fruit topper like cherries or strawberries, offering a pleasant acidic contrast to the rich, creamy profile of a fluffy chocolate ice cream.
If you’ve never tried heating up your ice cream before, you’re about to unlock a new level of deliciousness. Slightly warmer ice cream will exude more flavor — as the cream heats up, so do the molecules, becoming more active and aromatic in the process.
Extra-tasty ice cream, meet ever-delicious Pinot Noir.
Merlot and Baby Back Ribs
There aren’t many meat dishes that are as rich and creamy as baby back ribs. The natural fats and sweet barbeque sauce make a natural pair with an acidic glass of Merlot.
While more full-bodied reds can overwhelm the subtle sweets of rib sauce, Merlot presents a weighted balance between bitter tannins and savory sugars.
A Bowl of Chili and Syrah
A tasty, peppery treat fit for any fall afternoon, a piping-hot bowl of chili is typically stuffed with rich, meaty flavors, making it a natural candidate for a red wine pairing. Spicy dishes work beautifully with a fruit-forward red.
If you’re using ground beef or a fatty cut of pork, keep warm and toasty with a healthy glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or even a fruity Malbec. However, our pick for the best chili pair is a chilled Syrah, cushioned with soft tannins and bursting with fruit aroma.
Tandoori Chicken and a Dry Rosé
Alright, a rosé’s not quite a red, but it’s close enough that we’d feel terrible about not recommending you pair a tall glass of rosé with your next bite of Tandoori chicken.
The sharp bubbles help cut the spice of Indian dishes, emphasizing the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds that make Indian cuisine so irresistible.
Don’t stop at Tandoori. Try a chilled bottle of rosé with tikka masala, buttery grilled chicken — any flavor-packed curry dish loves pink for company.
Expect the Unexpected With Wine Connoisseur
While we love our list of unexpected food and wine pairings, feel free to make your own couples. Get in touch with your taste buds and let us know about the mouthwatering combos you come up with.
If you find your palate wanting a bit more from your glass of vino, you probably want to check out the Wine Connoisseur. This master wine aerator quickly brings your favorite wine to its perfect temperature and oxidation levels, accentuating its aromas and bringing out the best in its natural bouquet.
Whether you’re dining on a plate of baby back ribs, juicy beef burgers, or a bowl of rich chocolate ice cream, there’s always a place for the perfect glass of wine.