Common Wine Pairing Mistake, Plus Wine Pairing Tips!

Food Pairing Tip:  Whether it’s white wine or red wine, you should start with light-bodied wines that are less intense and then progress to fuller-bodied wines that are more intense as the meal progresses.

A mistake people make when buying wine in a restaurant is ordering two wines in the wrong order. People start with red wine then move to white wine, start with big red wines and finish with lighter reds or buy wine based on what they normally drink rather than the right wine for their food.

It’s perfectly fine to have both red wine and white wine in the same meal but ordering wine in the wrong order can result in a food pairing disaster. Wine and food pairing is a science, not opinions of snobby Sommeliers.  It’s no different than learning to cook and knowing what ingredients work best together.

We’re obviously not all wine experts or Sommeliers and you don’t need to be.  I want to give a few safe wine buying tips to properly pair food and wine and increase your ability to make good wine and food pairing decisions.

When buying wine in a restaurant you should consider how many courses you’re having and try to either pair one wine that can work well with all the dishes, or pair a wine for each course.  Most people don’t realize that you can overwhelm your taste buds making it hard to taste anything else.  Starting with fuller-bodied wine or very intense wine with a light dish can stomp all over your food.

At the same time, starting with those big wines then moving to a light wine can numb your taste buds to noticing the flavors of the lighter wine.  Some wine lists even organize their list from light bodied wines to full bodied wines.

Pairing Tip:  Follow the progression of weight and flavor intensity.  Never go from Big/Heavy to Light.  Go light to big or stay consistent.

Not including your Cheesecake Factory style of menus where appetizers can be as rich and filling as the main courses, menus are generally constructed to go from light to heavy: Salads – Soups – Appetizers – Entrees.  Each course generally starts lighter with smaller portions then moving to heavy.

Wine by the glass 

The wine by the glass list can be a useful tool when buying wine in a restaurant.  Wine menus that offer wine by the glass can make your decision easier.  If you’re only two or three people, you may not want to buy a full bottle, let alone a bottle to pair with each course.  Your server should be able to tell you which are the lighter wines and which are bigger wines.


  • Your gonna hate me for this. As much as I love fine wines, when dining out I opt for cheaper. The markup is not what I care to spend. Thus, my pairings aren’t always the best. Now at home….

    • Cheaper isn’t worse at all and I totally don’t judge; that’s the opposite of what I look to accomplish here. Going by the glass or a less expensive bottles are fine, but what I recommend is looking up the list before hand so you can do a little research as to which ones will pair best. If you have any pairing questions I’d be happy to answer them!

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