How to Pair Food & Wine at Your Next Business Meeting

Business meetings are an integral part of relationship building and are often where new agreements are finalized. If you have a business meeting or networking opportunity that involves food on the horizon, put your best foot forward with these tips on pairing wine and food.

The Wine Types

You don’t have to be a wine sommelier to pair wines well. From sparkling wines to dessert wines, here’s a quick breakdown of each type:

Sparkling Wine: Perfect for celebrations, this wine hails from Champagne, France, and includes Champagne and Prosecco.

White Wine: There are three types of white wine – the light-bodied varieties of Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are the most common, while the most common full-bodied are Chardonnay and Muscat. Light-bodied whites pair well with many foods. Full-bodied whites are creamy and smooth. The third variety is the aromatic white, the most common of which is the Reisling. These whites have a rich, dominant aroma and can be dry or sweet.

Rosé: Rosé wines are one of the most versatile wines around and can be dry or sweet. Known as the ‘pink wine,’ they include White Zinfandels and Blushes. Landing in the middle of the flavor profile, it pairs well with just about everything.

Red Wine: There are also three types of red wine. Light reds such as Pinot Noir have a light dryness to them. Medium reds like Merlot are the best for pairing as they have tons of flavor and work well with various foods. Full-bodied reds are the dark, dry reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. 

Dessert Wine: These wines get their name because they are typically served with dessert. They are an intensely sweet, usually nutty wine. Sherry is a notable dessert wine. 

Wine types can cross over. That’s why it’s essential to learn some basic pairing principles. 

Pairing Principles

The taste and color play a significant role in deciding the type of wine you should use. The wine should be more acidic and sweeter than the food but should have the same flavor intensity. Red wines are often more bitter and balance well with fatty foods because acid cleanses the palate. When in doubt, match the wine with the sauce of the dish, not the meat. 

Next, think about the color; pair like with like. Red with red, white with white. So, red wines with red meats and white wines with white meats. It can also help to remember that white rhymes with light.

You can complement flavor with flavor too. Pairing foods and wines from the same region works well. Think cheeses and wines from France. If you have a theme for your meal, certain wines work with various cuisines better than others. Chinese food, for example, goes excellent with German wines. Balancing flavor profiles is part of why margaritas go so well with Mexican food.

Wine is generally associated with fine dining, such as butter poached lobster. White wine goes exceptionally well with lobster and is served in many high-tiered restaurants around the world. With lobster being much more readily available online, you can enjoy this pairing at home now too!

Choosing the Wine

Use the pairing principles above when in doubt or look for a wine that works for what you are serving. There is no wrong way to drink wine, as it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Having a few types of wine on hand is generally the best bet.