The wine list of a restaurant is often extensive and the non-wine connoisseur quickly gets lost. therefore asked two specialists which wine is best for which dish, and which wine is (almost) always good for you.

We are all familiar with the rule 'red wine with red meat, white wine with fish and white meat', but with an extensive range this does not get you much further.

Sommelier conseil Peter Van Haelter knows that many people always order the same wine.

"For example, they 'always' drink a sauvignon blanc, even if that wine does not necessarily bring out the best in the dish."

And that is the goal of food pairing: to take the dish to a higher level.

"The sum of both elements is better than having them both separately. For example, a heavy red wine with fish is not a good combination," says Van Haelter as an example.

Even if you like both, it won't taste good together.

"You cannot return a bottle of wine that you have ordered, tasted and still does not like."

Birthe van Meegeren, Wine Woman of the Year 2019

Wine and food rules

"The taste of food and wine do indeed have a lot of influence on each other", says Birthe van Meegeren, Wine Woman of the Year 2019 and author of

Vive le Vin


"For dishes with a lot of acidity, for example with tomato, goat cheese or a dressing with citrus, it is best to choose a fresh wine with a high acidity. For example, a wine made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc or Pinot Noir."

Furthermore, the sauce or garnish determines the taste.

A full creamy sauce calls for a full-bodied wine, such as wood-aged chardonnay.

"When considering the difference between light and full, consider the mouthfeel of skimmed and whole milk," explains Van Haelter.

You are almost always in the right place with these wines:

  • The house wine: it will not be the best choice, but certainly not too sour or sweet for what you want to eat with it.

  • A Rueda from the verdejo grape: goes well with various dishes, likes almost everyone and is also good as an aperitif.

  • A pinot blanc: adapts well to the food, you can use it for the entire dinner.

  • A pinot noir: goes with many different dishes, even white meat and fish.

Sample or return?

However, the label does not show what a wine tastes like.

"A little knowledge about grapes and the type of wine is therefore useful," admits Van Haelter.

"Or ask the sommelier for advice, if the restaurant has one."

For example, ask for the three favorite wines with the dish you want to order.

Van Haelter: "He or she will designate a cheaper, a slightly more expensive and a more expensive wine, and then leave the choice to the customer."

And if you have a certain budget in mind, point out a bottle in that price range and ask for advice.

"A good sommelier will tell you which wine suits you best, in the same price range," adds Van Meegeren.

What she thinks you can also do: ask if you can taste a sip, if the wine is served by the glass.

"But please note: you cannot return a whole bottle of wine that you have ordered, tasted and still does not like."

Preliminary tasting is only intended to check whether the wine is at the right temperature and has no cork.

Van Meegeren thinks it is a different story if the sommelier has explicitly advised one particular wine.

"I think you can exchange it. Chances are you can, after all, the restaurant wants you to go home satisfied."