Wine can seem like a mysterious and untouchable world, yet being able to pair a great wine with a dish can add depth and ambience to a meal experience. Here are a few handy cheats to keep up your sleeve when it comes to wine…

Terms you need to know

A ‘dry’ wine is the opposite of a ‘sweet’ wine, while a ‘crisp’ one is generally refreshing and slightly acidic – the opposite of ‘soft’. ‘Body’ refers to the ‘weight’ the wine has in your mouth- it can be ‘light’, ‘medium’ or ‘full’, while ‘finish’ is the last impression you get when you swallow. ‘Intensity’ is how strong the flavour is. ‘Tannic‘ wines are red and leave the mouth a little dry, while ‘oak‘ and ‘fruity‘ refer to the taste – remember not all fruity wines are sweet!

How to pair wine

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Wine pairing is an art, but there are a few basics you can master quickly and you can always use a handy pairing chart to refine it a bit more.

However, in general a wine should be more acidic than the food, and also sweeter than it, while the intensity should match. Red wine goes well with red meats, and white wines suit fish and chicken. Bitter wines go well with fat. If you’re serving wine with a dish which has a sauce, match the wine to that sauce.

While wine is a rich and rewarding world to explore, having these basics under your belt will help you feel more confident taking your first steps.