As delightful as a single glass of wine can be, pairing it with food highlights flavors that enhance both eating and drinking. What are some romantic food and wine pairings that can make Valentine’s Day special? A bold Cabernet cuts through the richness of red meat with its own robust flavor. What about chicken and fish? Learn more about food and wine pairings for Valentine’s Day that makes for a romantic and memorable meal.

Food and Wine Pairings for Valentine’s Day That Make the Holiday Special

Whether you’re enjoying a favorite dinner or a sweet last course, a thoughtfully chosen wine makes any Valentine’s meal special. From the main course to dessert, our food and wine pairing guide suggests the right wine for a romantic meal. But, first, here are some food and wine fundamentals that will never steer you wrong.

Food and Wine Pairing Basics

While certain dishes may go best with specific wines, there are some general rules that consistently make for delicious combinations.

Here are some food and wine pairing tips to always keep in mind:

  • Red wines usually go best with red meats.
  • White wines pair best with lighter meats like chicken or fish.
  • For meals with sauces, pair the wine with the sauce, not the meat.
  • Red wines often provide congruent, or shared, flavors.
  • White, sparkling, and Rosé wines typically provide a contrasting, or opposite, flavor.

#1. Wine and Steak Pairings

Food and wine pairings for Valentine’s Day often include red meat because of its rich and decadent flavor. And while red wines generally pair best with red meats, there is some variability in which goes best with specific cuts.

Which red wine type are best with steaks:

  • Light or medium-bodied reds (Pinot Noir or Sangiovese): Best with leaner cuts of meat like London Broil or sirloin tips. The higher acidity in these wines better penetrates the texture of lean meats.
  • Bold reds with high tannins (Petite Sirah or Cabernet Sauvignon): Ideal for rich, fattier cuts of meat like ribeye, filet mignon or a New York strip steak. The tannins can actually help cleanse the palate of these fattier meats.

food and wine pairings for Valentine's Day

#2. Wine and Chicken Pairings

What wine goes well with chicken? Usually white wine is the way to go. But making the right choice also depends on how your chicken is cooked. Different cooking methods, like roasting, frying, or barbecuing, can dictate which wine is best.

These wines go best with specific chicken dishes:

  • Rich, white wine (Chardonnay or Rosé): Perfect for roasted chicken, where the meat is tender and the flavor is intensified.
  • Champagne or sparkling wines: Ideal for fried chicken. Their acidity and effervescence penetrate the rich fattiness of the breading and cleanses the palate.
  • Deep, red wine (Zinfandel or Malbec): Best with BBQ dishes that enhance the smokiness of chicken. This higher flavor profile dictates the need for a richer, deeper taste of red wine.

#3. Wine and Fish Pairings

In almost all cases, white wines are best paired with fish, as their low tannin levels don’t negatively interact with fish oils. Whether refrigerated or directly from a wine cellar or wine cooler, white wines are best enjoyed chilled.

When choosing the best white wine to pair with fish, let the texture of the fish be your guide:

  • Light, refreshing whites (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc): Best with lean, flaky fish like tilapia, branzino, or sea bass. The vibrant but mild flavors of these wines complement these delicate fish.
  • Medium-bodied whites (Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc): Ideal with medium-textured fish that’s firmer and thicker. Fish like grouper, Chilean sea bass, and halibut can stand up to slightly bolder flavors.
  • Rich whites with full flavors (Oaked Chardonnay or White Burgundy): Firm fish, like tuna and mahi mahi, go best with these deeply-flavored wines. Salmon can even be enjoyed with a dry Rosé.

#4. Dessert Wine Pairings

What goes well with dessert wine? When pairing a sweet last course, look for wines that share the dessert’s flavor rather than those that complement or contrast with it.

These food and wine pairings for Valentine’s Day detail what goes best with desserts:

  • Rich, bold red wines (Port or Merlot): These flavors enhance the richness of dark chocolate cakes and tarts.
  • Lighter reds and sweet whites (Pinot Noir, Muscat, or Rieslings): The softer tannins and lighter finish are best enjoyed with lighter, milk chocolate desserts, like mousse.
  • Young, unoaked, light whites (Sauternes, Chenin Blanc): Best for fruity desserts like peach or berry tarts or fresh strawberries.

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