What Are The Common Types Of Wine And How To Pair Them?

Wine is made from fermented grape juice. Traditionally, wines have been labelled based on where they were made example Bordeaux, Rioja etc. This can get very confusing because it is not clear what grapes have been used in the making of the wine.


However, more recently, this confusion has started to vanish a bit with the New World winemakers labeling their wines based on the grape varieties they are made from. In this article, you will learn about the most common types of wine and what foods they are best paired with.

​Click the item in the table below to skip to your most pressing wine, or continue to read the whole article.

Red Grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon

This tops the most famous types of red wine. It is a grape variety that originates from Bordeaux but it is now grown in quite a few places around the world including Chile, California, Spain, Italy and Australia.

Tasting note

It is a full bodied red wine with blackcurrant and cedar flavors. It can also contain flavors of incense, black cherry, and blackberry.

Food Pairing

Great with steak, ribs, and gruyere cheese. Also goes well with squash and mushrooms.


This grape originates from North Spain and its original name was Garnacha.

Tasting note

This is a medium to full bodied red wine. It contains flavors of black cherries, strawberry and raspberry. It can sometimes also have notes of anise and cinnamon.

Food Pairing

Goes well with Mexican food, spicy Indian dishes, roast meats and roast vegetables.


The main country that produces Malbec wines is Argentina. It is also used to blend with Gamay and Cabernet Franc wines in France.

Tasting note

 It is a full bodied wine with flavors of plum, black cherry, pomegranate, blueberry and blackberry. It can also have aromas of violet, cocoa, leather and tobacco. This makes it a very complex wine and this gets reflected in its food pairings which is quite varied.

Food pairing

 It works well with pork, lean brisket, duck, turkey, buffalo and ostrich. You can also pair it with some fatty fish such as salmon, bluefish and swordfish as well as mushroom, roasted vegetables, lentils, soft cow’s milk cheeses and goat’s milk cheeses.


Merlot wine is mainly grown in France in the Bordeaux region. It is also grown in California, Chile and Italy.

Tasting note

This is a medium bodied wine with favors of plum, raspberry and black cherry. It can sometimes also contain flavors of vanilla oak, cedar and cigar.

Food pairing

Works well with chicken especially barbecued, roast duck, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagne.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir originates from the Burgundy and Champagne regions in France. It is now also grown in South Africa and Tasmania.

Tasting note

This is a medium bodied wine which has flavors of cranberry, cherry and raspberry. More expensive Pinots also contain smoky and earthy notes.

Food pairing

Because of its complex nature, it can be paired with a wide range of foods including salmon, tuna, duck, ham, quail, potatoes, mushrooms, greens and the famous cheese Comte. Foods to avoid with this wine include red meats, rich and heavy sauces as well as sweet and rich veggies like pumpkin.


This wine also known as Syrah is very popular in Australia. Some of the best wines from the North of Rhone in France are made using this grape variety.

Tasting note

The Shiraz from warmer climates like Rhone is a light bodied red wine with flavors of olive, plum, pepper, herbs and smoky tobacco. The Shiraz from cooler climates such as Australia and Spain is a full bodied red wine with flavors of blackberry, blueberry, clove, pepper, cocoa, vanilla and sweet tobacco.

Food pairing

A light bodied Shiraz is works well with grilled lamb and grilled eggplant. A full bodied Shiraz is best served with barbecue pork and smoked seitan.


Zinfandel originates from California. The other main regions it is grown is Italy.

Tasting note

It has a lighter color than other red wines such as Merlot and Cabernet which might make some people think that it is light and sweet. On the contrary, it is a medium to full bodied wine with flavors of raspberry, black cherry, bramley blackberry, black pepper spice. It can also have aromas of chocolate, liquorice and violet.

Food pairing

It goes very well with full flavoured spicy and curry dishes containing pork, quail, bacon, ham, veal. It also goes well with vegetables like beets, red peppers and roasted tomatoes and cheeses such cheddar cheese and blue goat cheese.

White Grapes


This is the most popular white grape. It is grown all over the world including France, California, Australia, Italy and Chile.

Tasting note

A Chardonnay is a full bodied white wine with flavors of citrus fruit if the grape was not too ripe whereas it will have flavors of tropical fruit such as pineapple, passionfruit and fig if the grape was very ripe. A Chardonnay can also be oaked aged or not. An oak aged Chardonnay will also have flavors of vanilla, butter and coconut and is usually more expensive than one that has not been oak aged.

Food pairing

Goes well with seafood such as cod, halibut, salmon, lobster, crab, scallops, clams, oysters, scallops, shrimp, sea bass as well as light coloured meats such as chicken, turkey and pork. It also pairs well with vegetables such as zucchini, asparagus, avocado, spinach, squash and semi soft cow’s milk cheese and goat cheese.

Pinot Grigio

This grape is a mutation of Pinot Noir. Its original name is Pinot Gris and originates from France. It is also grown in Italy, USA and Germany.

Tasting note

It is a light bodied white wine which has flavors of citrus fruit. It is an easy drinking wine ideal for summer months.

Food pairing

It pairs really well with light fish, oysters, chicken, ham, veal, light pasta, ravioli and Italian antipasti.


Riesling wine originates from Germany and is now grown in other countries including Australia, USA and France.

Tasting note

Riesling is well known for being the most aromatic of grape varieties. Riesling wines can be dry (full-bodied), off-dry or sweet. It smells primarily of apples and has flavors of peach, pear, apricot and pineapple. It can also have flavors of honey and petrol.

Food pairing

Dry Riesling goes well with European dishes including fish (either fried or baked), chicken, pork, charcuterie and mushrooms. Off-dry Riesling pairs well with spicy Asian/fusion foods including crab cakes, Thai style chicken dishes as well as roasted meats, roasted vegetables and pumpkin ravioli. Sweet Riesling is often paired with rich and spicy Indian dishes and roasted game dishes. However, it is best served as a “sorbet” between courses.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is mainly produced in France (Loire and Bordeaux). It is also produced in New Zealand, Chile, Australia, USA, Italy, Spain and South Africa.

Tasting note

It is a light to medium bodied white wine. Depending on where the wine is produced, it can have slightly different flavors but the primary flavors are green apple, melon, white peach, passion fruit, grapefruit, lemon and fresh grass.

Food pairing

Sauvignon Blanc goes very well with seafood such as crab, raw oysters, scallops, shrimp and smoked seafood. It is also paired with vegetables like asparagus, zucchini, artichokes and fresh peas as well as goat’s cheese.

Bear in mind that the tasting notes above are based on the fact that the wines are served at the correct temperature and allowed to breathe properly for the appropriate amount of time.

Photo by seanmfreese