Wine connoisseurs will tell you that each wine has a distinct taste, aroma and smell, and that there are very specific wines for certain foods. There is some truth to this, as our tastebuds are very complex, and the strangest mix of food can be surprisingly tasty.

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Whether you want to show off your wine skills and knowledge, or you just want to find that perfect blend to go with your chicken or fish, there is a correct way. Check out the tips below for the best wines to complement any dish.

Less Alcohol with Spicier Foods

The higher the sugar content, the higher the alcohol level will be. This has to do with the whole fermentation process, and sweeter wines can make spicy food taste a bit sharp or acidic. Dishes like curries with chillies and strong spices should be served with a low-alcohol wine. It can be either red or white wine but choose more of a drier blend, rather than sweet.

The type of wine must consider the protein and starch of your meals. The general rule of thumb is to match your wine to the same intensity as your meal. If you are eating a steak, you need a dark red wine, and not a light rosé that is better served with fish or poultry.

Salty Complements Sweet

There is something about wines with low tannins that makes them work well with any salty meal. Depending on the type of meal, this can also determine which wine will be the most suitable. In most cases, red meat should be paired with a red wine that is relatively dry. Wines that go well with beef steaks, for example, are Cabernet, Merlot, and Sauvignon.

Fish, pork, and chicken should be matched with a white wine with fewer tannins. Many Mediterranean fish dishes like the Wild Alaskan Pacific cod call for white wine in the recipe, so use the same wine for your dinner drink. If you enjoy a good traditional Mediterranean dish, you could consider visiting restaurants like Café Luca in London for inspiration on what to put on your menu.

When in Doubt, Go Light

Sparkling wines or a light rosé go perfectly with almost any meal. It’s a very adaptable wine because it’s somewhere in the middle – not too sweet and not too sour. A good bubbly is your best bet if you are stuck for choice.

Rosé is also ideal for new wine drinkers who are not yet acquainted with the taste. It can be a nice introduction to find your ideal brand and taste of wine. Start in the middle and see if you prefer sweet or dry.

Wine is not only something people drink after a tough day at work, or when they’re at a party. There is a lot of culture surrounding wine, how it is made and how it should be enjoyed. You can show off your wine skills by following these tips. From pairing a sweet meal with something a little salty to give you the best of both worlds, to cooking with wine to make your steak tender, there is a wine for everyone.