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From Chardonnays to sweet Champagnes and everything in between, selecting the proper wine to go alongside one’s meal can prove to be a massive undertaking. Many feel utterly overwhelmed when faced by the rows upon rows of bottles at the supermarket, but selecting a complementary wine needn’t feel like a mission better suited for James Bond. Instead, armed with a bit of culinary expertise, finding the right wine is a rather simple task.

Light V. Full-Bodied Wines

Delectable wines come in a tantalizing array of different options, but most can be broken down into two different groups: light wines that are lower in alcohol content, and full-bodied wines that are heavier in the mouth. Certain wines may also balance between the two. Wine body refers to the subjective texture of different wines, ultimately leaving the decision up to the drinker’s palate. Nevertheless, wines that are generally noted as full-bodied are traditionally paired with heavier meals, whereas a light wine makes a good match for fish and chicken dishes.

Throw Out the Rulebook

It was once accepted knowledge that red wines were the proper accompaniment for red meats, whereas white wines were better matched for lighter fare. Today, there are countless varieties of wines that do not conform to the norm. Light reds with a subtle flavour can actually serve as a delicious complement to a lighter meal, whereas a particularly full white wine might go nicely with a pork disk, or even beef. While certain wine aficionados would likely object, many modern drinkers instead simply drink what they like best.

Ask a Professional

When all else fails, a knowledgeable wine expert can provide powerful guidance that is often invaluable in finding a delicious wine to enjoy with dinner. For those who know if they prefer dry or sweet wines, this could be a good starting point to reference. In other instances, it may be better to simply choose a wine that has notes complementing the main course that will be served. There is no shame in asking for an expert’s opinion, and most are quite happy to share their infinite knowledge with the everyday consumer.

Sharing a glass of wine over a scrumptious meal is perhaps one of life’s greatest pleasures. While finding the right wine may feel like a difficult chore, hunting for the perfect glass of wine is made much easier when armed with a bit of knowledge about what differentiates one wine from another. Those interested in delving further into what makes a truly great wine different from others may wish to brush up on their knowledge of different grapes, learning what makes a particular fruit unique. Ultimately, practice makes perfect, so bottoms up and bon appetit!

Christine is the head sommelier at Dedes Restaurant in Sydney, Australia. Christine prepares the restaurant’s wine list to match the menu each night and sources both domestic and international wines to ensure the best possible wine parings to match the menu.