Difficult Food and Wine Pairings

We have all been there. You take a bite of a delicious meal and then wash it down with a sip of wine. But the moment you take a sip, the wine tastes bitter and for lack of a better term, gross. There are many difficult food and wine pairings that leave people stumped. 

This is more than likely because you’re pairing the wrong wine with the food you’re eating! This week we asked the readers of Glass Half Full, what food + wine combo is the hardest to pair?

When we asked this question to the Bright Cellars’ staff all of them had to sit and pause for a second. Pairing food and wine is not as straightforward as many think it is. But after much deliberation, many decided that desserts + wine or spicy food + wine were the two hardest. 

The Results

The results were slightly similar to what we predicted but also surprised us a little bit as well! Drum roll please:

  • 47.7%  of respondents said spicy food + wine was the hardest pairing.
  • 25.8% of respondents said vegetarian/vegan food + wine pairing is the hardest.
  • 5.7% of respondents said dessert + wine is the most difficult pairing. 
  • 4.7% of respondents said fish + wine is the hardest pairing.
  • 3.8% of respondents said cheese + wine pairings is the hardest.
  • 2.6% of respondents said grilled meat + wine is the most difficult pairing.

Spicy food and wine pairing - difficult food and wine pairings

Spicy food + wine was the obvious winner! Spicy food is a hard thing to pair with wine, so we understand where the frustration comes from! A far behind second was vegetarian/vegan food + wine.

Along with the Glass Half Full readers, we also asked Bright Cellars’ Instagram followers this question as well. The result didn’t differ too much, many said that they thought the hardest pairing was spicy food + wine! Here are some of our favorite responses:

  • Cultural food like Indian and Japanese food
  • Spicy Korean food
  • I like to look at my wine cards that come in my Bright Cellars box for wine pairings!

Respondents are really interested in spicy foods but also different cultural foods!

Food + Wine Pairing Guides

Here are some guidelines for all the above food + wine pairings to help get you started:

  1. Spicy food + wine: A chilled & low ABV wines are the way to go
  2. Vegetarian/vegan + wine: Pair your wine with the primary veggie flavors in the dish
  3. Fish + wine: Red wine is also GREAT with some white wines, don’t throw it to the side!
  4. Grilled meat + wine: Again, don’t forget the red at the summer BBQ!
  5. Cheese + wine: Wine and cheese can enhance each other flavors, if paired correctly. Want to try a Wisconsin favorite? Check out this guide for wine and cheese curd pairings!
  6. Dessert + wine: The best rule of thumb with pairing wine and desserts is that you always need to make sure the wine is as sweet or sweeter than the dessert. If not, the wine will taste bitter. Here are some of our favorite dessert and wine pairings:
    1. S’more + wine
    2. Girl Scout Cookies + wine
    3. Ice cream + wine
    4. Chocolate + wine
    5. Cupcakes + wine

Cheese and wine pairing

In Vino Fintio 

Pairing your favorite food and wine can bring along some difficulties! But don’t stress, send us an email at news@brightcellars.com and we can help get you started in the right direction. 

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Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

2 Comments
  1. Why bother with spicy food and wine, when beer and spicy food are so awesome! I’ve never found a wine pairing with Indian food that’s as good as beer.

    1. Hi Cathy, thanks for reading! A good rule of thumb would be to pair your spicy foods with a chilled, low ABV wine like a Riesling or Prosecco!

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