Who doesn’t love a delicious drink with dinner? At our restaurant in NJ, we serve a wide variety of wines, beers, and cocktails, but our customers most often like to enjoy a simple glass of wine with dinner. How do you choose the best wine to complement the flavors of your food, and vice versa? Here are the basics of wine pairing.

Acid-Acid. If your meal has a high acid level, such as many citrus dishes, this is a no-brainer: go for a high-acid wine to match! Barolo, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chianti make perfect pairs for citrus-based or tomato-based dishes (fun fact: tomatoes are actually citrus fruits!). When you pair acid with acid, you enhance the acidic flavors naturally.

Tannin-Fat. Okay, if you’re not a big food or drink person, you might be wondering what a tannin is. Tannins are the astringent compounds in wine that cause a bitter, puckery feeling in your mouth. Ever overbrew a cup of tea? The tannins got out and made it taste/feel like that! While tannins are unpleasant where they don’t belong, they are a perfect enhancer for soft, fatty dishes, such as prime rib. Tannin-heavy wines such as Cabernet will smooth this out for a great experience.

Flavor, not meat. Old-school recommendations suggest white with fish or chicken, and red with red meat. However, since modern chefs can prepare meats in so many different ways, we recommend matching the flavors, not the meat.

Hot-Sweet. Sugar cools the burn of alcohol, making sweet Rieslings the perfect accompaniment for spicy-hot dishes!

Sweet-Sweet. Looking for the perfect dessert wine? Seek something a little sweeter than your dessert. A rich sip of port can intensify the sweetness of chocolate cake or ice cream.

Drink responsibly. Just like with any alcoholic beverage, make sure to consume responsibly. This means no drinking for those underage, no drinking and driving, and keep it in moderation. You want to enjoy, not to get wasted. If you have problems with alcohol, consider ordering a sparkling water or juice—our servers would be happy to put it in a wine glass for a toast!

What do you think about these pairing choices? Do they match your usual style? If not, don’t worry: The number one rule of dining is to consume what you like! However, if you are looking for the best pairing of food and wine at a restaurant in Sussex County, feel free to ask your server for a suggestion. They help hundreds of people choose the perfect pair each night!