Food & Drink
10 of the Most Unusual Food and Wine Pairings
Cue the champagne and the fried chicken.

When it comes to pairing a meal with the perfect glass of wine—whether white, red, or sparkling—we already know the classics: White wine with fish or an antipasto hour of light bites, a full-bodied red with dark meat or rich pasta, and bubbly with briny oysters or to offset a sweet treat like macarons.

But what about the more obscure, unexpected pairings? Yes, the effortless go-to's of Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon are nice, but the world of wine is a lot more complex. With countless varietals of grapes existing around the world, and numerous notes of fruits, spices and oak all coming into play, there are a lot more surprising (and delectable) food and wine pairings to try than you may think.

We went to expert Jennifer Raezer, creator of the top-rated iPhone wine app Approach Guides, which turns casual wine drinkers into pros. She gave us ten unusual food and wine pairings she can't get enough of. So forget the plain jane pairings at your next dinner party, and surprise your guests with a coupling of bites and sips they'll never forget.

Fried Chicken and Champagne

"The bubbles and crisp acidity of Champagne cuts the fatty richness of the fried chicken, making for a delightful (and luxurious!) combination."


Pizza and Lambrusco

"Turn pizza night into a sophisticated meal when you pop the cork on a bottle of lambrusco, Italy's intensely-fruity and earthy sparkling red wine. The bright acidity and bubbles cut the fat of the melted cheese. And because lambrusco is typically served lightly chilled, it makes for a refreshing complement."


Prosciutto and Proseco

"Many wines struggle to showcase the creamy, salty-sweet flavors of prosciutto. However, Prosecco—Italy's famous sparkler—strikes the perfect balance with its crisp fruit flavors and high acidity."


Grilled Swordfish and Pinot Noir

"Red wine with fish? Yes! Throw conventional wisdom out the window and try a pinot noir—aim for attractively-priced, lighter-style pinots like those from the Rully, Monthélie, Ladoix-Serrigny, Mâcon or Chorey-les-Beaune AOCs in Burgundy—with grilled swordfish. The fish has enough weight to hold up to a light red and the grilling provides smoky flavors that integrate well the wine."

"Impress your guests with the succulent pairing of two of Spain's famous delicacies: jamón ibérico de bellota, cured ham made from pigs raised on a diet of acorns, and a dry sherry, such as fino or manzanilla. The fortified wine's high acidity cuts through the ham's creamy melt-in-your-mouth fat, while complementing its nutty, umami notes. You can thank me later!"



Oysters and Muscadet

"Crisp, clean, minerally muscadet enhances the flavor of the oysters and brings out their beautiful salinity. Look for muscadets marked 'sur lie' (meaning the wine was aged on the lees) for bigger, more nuanced flavors."


Indian Food and Rosé

"The complex spices and heat of many Indian dishes demand a certain class of wines. While riesling is the classic pairing, I also like full-bodied, dry rosés (deep pink in color)—such as those from Puglia, Italy (negroamaro grape) or the Navarra DO in Spain (garnacha grape)—which have just enough fruit and body to hold up to the big flavors, but never overwhelm."

"Sercial—the lightest and driest of Madeira's intensely complex wines—is one of the few wines that pair exceptionally well with dishes containing vinegar, making escabeche (or even a salad with vinaigrette) a compelling match."


Anchovies and Txakoli

"Straight out of Spain's Basque region, salty, fishy anchovies pair perfectly with txakoli, the Basque country's refreshing and often effervescent, bitingly-acidic local white. A delightful aperitif."

Pair your next burger with a cru Beaujolais (the region's elite gamay-based wines)—the earthy red fruit flavors perfectly complement the beef and balance the other flavors in the toppings."


This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Lauren Sheffield
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