Take Date Night To The Next Level By Using This Wine Pairing Guide

Her tastebuds will thank you for it.


Megan Flemmit |

Let’s be honest, there’s fewer things that go better together than good food and good wine. Add good company to that list and I bet your night is one you’ll never forget. Whether you’re trying to impress someone new, or your partner of a few years, why not treat her to the ultimate taste sensation by perfectly pairing a bottle of wine with the food you’re going to cook.

Of course there’s more to wine pairing than knowing red wine goes well with steak, and white with fish. Aside from its colour, the flavour, texture, taste, balance and even temperature of a wine determines what kind of food it will pair well with.

Related: The Science of Drinking Wine

We spoke to founder Creation Wine, Carolyn Martin, to create this handy wine pairing guide to help elevate your dining experience.

Styles of Pairing

When it comes to finding the right wine to pair with your food, Carolyn, who is a pioneer in the art and science of flavour profiling at Creation Wines, believes that there is no formula and very few unbreakable rules to finding the perfect match. “Instead of tried and tested combinations, use your imagination and be creative,” she says.

Every three months the team at Creation comes up with a complete new menu for their guests. “At Creation we believe that what grows together goes together. Our menus are based on fresh, locally grown produce and therefore change with the seasons.”

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Martin identifies three styles of pairings that you can play with to find the right wine.

creation wine pairing

Horizontal Pairing is the fairly common style of pairing. It seeks to build layers of intensity by pairing food with wines that are similar in taste, texture, colour and aroma.

Vertical Pairing is more radical, and the results of the pairing can be quite impressive. It uses contrast to highlight flavours, texture and the way the wine interacts with your food.

Combining Vertical and Horizontal. Become even more creative with your pairings by using elements of both.

Wine Pairing Guide

Using Creation Wines as a reference, Carolyn gave us this practical guide to choosing the wine to match your food. Use it as a starting point for your next date.

Chardonnay – Smoked salmon with avocado and cucumber. The different layers reflect the depth of flavour in the wine.

Merlot – Cauliflower and gorgonzola soup with herbed sourdough croûtes. The saltiness of the blue cheese contrasts with the sweeter blackberry notes in the wine and helps to elevate the fruit component, while the crunchy croûtes add texture.

Pinot Noir – Smoked duck breast with raspberry coulis and king oyster mushrooms. An intensely flavoured Pinot Noir pairs exceptionally well with the richness of smoked duck while the raspberry picks up on the red berry flavours in the wine.

Related: Is Drinking Red Wine Actually Good For You? It’s Complicated

Sauvignon Blanc – Seared yellowtail with fennel, olives and new potatoes. The freshness of the wine is the perfect foil for the heavier gamefish – a sensational match!

Chenin Blanc – The Creation Cool-climate Chenin Blanc is beautifully fresh and remarkably complex and pairs well with waterblommetjies and lemon verbena.

Syrah – Gruyère cheese with black cherry preserve – the perfect ending to a special dinner. The salty cheese is in exciting contrast to the berry flavours, with the black cherry preserve echoing the fruity characteristics in the wine.

Viognier – Works equally well with fresh shellfish as it does with Asian dishes including hard-to-pair ingredients such as chilli, ginger and lemongrass.

Rosé – Especially dry Rosé tends to offer savoury nuances to balance the fruity and florally notes, making it one of the most versatile styles of wine for pairing. Smoked salmon with Rosé vinaigrette is a great match.

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