Wine and Walnuts

A blog about eating, drinking, cooking and reading in the not so Deep South

A Simple Wine and Recipe Pairing Trick

temp wine pic #1

Here’s a neat little trick I use to find a good wine match for the recipes I make.  Something you too can do with success, even if you don’t know much at all about wine, which is what makes it such a handy little cheat. 

For me, I usually know what I’d like to drink, and choose the recipe based on my wine choice.  But I realize lots of people, and by lots I mean most, do it the other way around:  you have a recipe in mind, you just need to find a good wine match to go with, right?

So here’s the trick:  if I’m preparing something for which no wine immediately comes to mind that I think would be an appropriate match, I log onto and do a recipe search. has this handy little feature that gives you several wine matches for each recipe.

Here’s how it works: 

1. Enter the recipe you want to make in the search box — say, “pasta primavera” — and epicurious returns several recipes — one may be an exact match to the recipe you entered, while several others are similar and/or will have like ingredients. 

2. Once you’ve entered your recipe or ingredient list, you’ll get several recipe options. Click on the various recipe links to get the full recipe, ingredient list, and preparation method. 

3. Scroll down past this, and you’ll see something called “Wine Pairings for This Recipe,” which will give you around a dozen wines that pair well with your recipe.

(If you click on the name of the wine, you’ll also get more info about the winery, the region, price and varietal, wine reviews and rankings, where you can buy it online, other wines you might also like, and more recipes that pair with this wine – how cool is that?)

What I love about this wine matching tool is, it gives you specific suggestions, not “serve a spicy big red with BBQ or burgers,“ or, “serve chardonnay with rich, buttery sauces,” etc. (This kind of thing makes me crazy, because it’s so general, but mostly because it’s not very useful to someone who doesn’t already know some about wine. And wine should be enjoyed by everyone!  Wine populism!!  OK, I’m off my soapbox now.)

Your search will return specific bottle suggestions, with approximate price point.  And what’s great is, there will be a few whites, a few reds, and even a couple of Rosés, if appropriate.  It’s awesome, because then you have a dozen or so wines to choose from — go red, go white, go Rosé; you’ll be able to do whatever floats your particular palate.

If the specific recipe you want is not in the epicurious database, the wine matching tool will still get the job done — look at all the recipes that are returned in the search, and find a recipe that uses similar ingredients in similar proportions, and you’re good to go.  I’ve done this many times, and it works well.

For example, I recently did a search on “lemon spaghetti,” and found nothing, but, there was a recipe for “Spaghetti with Cremini Mushrooms, Lemon and Thyme,” which had a similar amount of lemon juice and lemon zest to the lemon spaghetti recipe I wanted to prepare. So I used the wine suggestions for that recipe to guide my search for an appropriate match.  It turned up several Oregon Pinot Noirs, a few Italian whites, and a couple of Rosés. 

I went with the site’s suggestion of the Firesteed Oregon Pinot Noir 2007. This was a very nice match to the lemon spaghetti, and, had the added bonus of being available at Harriss Teeter just up the street. 

What you can do if your recipe search returns wines not available in your particular market is get something similar, which will be easy to do, because you’ll be armed with about a dozen possibilities.  In the example above for lemon spaghetti, if the Firesteed Pinot Noir hadn’t been available, I could have gotten a different Pinot Noir, an Italian white, or a Rosé; any of which would’ve gotten the job done just as nicely. 

Sometimes, I go on with no recipe in mind and no plans to cook, and just enter recipes left and right to see which wine matches come up. I’ve gotten a ton of good ideas about food and wine pairings I want to do in the future this way, plus, learned lots about basic food and wine matching.  It’s one of my favorite learning tools online.

And learning about food and wine pairing is a big bunch of fun.  : )

Cheers and Bon Appetit!

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About The Author

Kimberly Houston


One Response to “A Simple Wine and Recipe Pairing Trick”

  1. I didn’t know that gave wine suggestions. I can’t wait to check that out. I agree with you that the site’s specificity is really helpful. Thanks for this information!

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