Wine Pairing 101: Five Online Tools to Learn How to Pair Wine and Food
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Wine Pairing 101: Five Online Tools to Learn How to Pair Wine and Food

wine pairing tools

In the never-ending quest to completely understand how to correctly pair food and wine, I admit to spending hours perusing magazines, wine sites, recipes, etc.  When I am not completely comfortable trusting my own judgment, I turn to various online wine pairing tools for a bit of reassurance.  There are numerous sites that have wine pairing guides, tools, widgets, etc., so I wanted to share the 5 most common ones I turn to in my time of insecurity! 

FoodTv Canada

This is basically the Food Network's Canada site.  Their wine pairing tool is pretty helpful for basic food options, providing some more obscure wine pairings.  There are expanded categories for seafood, poultry, meat, vegetables, cheeses, desserts, pastas, and even pizza/snacks! Although there are not a lot of options within each category, there are accompanying recipes with a very detailed explanation about the wine's characteristics and the pairing summary itself.  The pairing summary is very helpful in understanding how the food and wine actually work together. 

Nat Decants

Natalie MacLean is an accredited sommelier and wine writer. She has a great wine matching tool on her site that breaks down the food categories even further to include fruit based dishes, spices and herbs, nuts, turkey dinner, eggs, and even breads.  Although there is not an actual pairing summary, you can mouse over the wine glass to learn more about the specific varietal itself.  One added benefit to this wine tool is the inclusion of both red and white pairing options in search results. 

E&J Gallo Winery

Gallo Winery's website pairing tool is very simple and not very customizable, but it provides more than one option for pairing.  Categories like chicken/pork/turkey are combined as are pasta/vegetarian, etc.  You can choose the spice or sauce, and your result will yield good, better, and best pairing options.  Just note, the wine varietals searched are actually only those produced by Gallo themselves, so the results are a bit skewed if you were interested in other varietals not on the list. 

Wined In

Wined In is a community based collection of suggested wine pairings with various meals.  Although there are no actual recipes provided, there are some very detailed pairings included, like halibut with mango chutney or braised halibut with fennel and cherry tomatoes.  If you cannot find something suitable, there is a place you can request a wine pairing and see if a fellow wine enthusiast will post a suggestion in response.  And if you feeling confident, you can submit your own pairing addition to the database! 

The Wine Curators

Their website has a free version of the licensed software you can purchase in their Personal Wine Curator cellar management system.  The main difference is the inability to use two search characteristics under food, as that option is only available in the paid version.  It's still worth a mention since the free version has some pretty detailed options in the food category and the search results are expansive, including both Old and New World wines.

Hopefully you will find these wine pairing tools as helpful as I have.  I always try to formulate a pairing suggestion first and then look to the various tools for additional support.  This gives alternative suggestions that I may not have thought of previously, helping enhance my wine knowledge.  Most of all though, just remember to have fun with your pairings - food and wine are meant to be fun, not stressful! 

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