How do you create food and wine harmony? When a wine and food “match,” each brings out subtle qualities in the other. Some general rules for wine and herbs can give you an advantage when figuring out these pairings. For instance, consider that softer herbs (basil, dill) pair perfectly with white wine, while hard herbs (rosemary, thyme) go well with reds. There are exceptions like sage, so let’s dive deeper.
Go fresh! The difference between fresh basil and dried basil that’s been left in the pantry for ages is remarkable. When basil’s fresh, its flavor is delicious. This strong flavor – featuring in dishes like pesto – goes perfectly with dry white wines. The straight from the garden (or greenhouse in winter!) appeal of the basil and the dryness of the white play perfectly against each other.
Cilantro features in a lot of Mexican dishes, and it doesn’t stop there. It’s often a highlight in Middle-Eastern and Asian dishes as well. It can add something of a spicy flare, so choose a sauvignon blanc to pair. A very dry riesling can also work. If it’s in the form of a curry, something with depth like a carmenere or cabernet franc works best.
Mint is rarely the feature spice outside of desserts, but you’ll find it in salads, lamb, and many vegetable dishes. Its subtle punch always goes well with cabernet sauvignon, whether alone or in a blend. A sharp white like sauvignon blanc pairs best with vegetable dishes that feature mint.
You won’t come across parsley too often as a feature, but when you do, few things suit it better than a chianti.
Few herbs offer such remarkable food and wine harmony as rosemary does. When it comes to wine and herbs, it’s almost impossible to go wrong pairing with rosemary. Cabernet sauvignon and chianti are excellent pairings, but so is a flavorful muscat.
Sage is the biggest exception to soft herbs pairing better with white wines. With meat dishes, pair it with chianti. With vegetable dishes, seek out a lighter-bodied chardonnay. This keeps the flavors playing with every bite and sip.
You’ll often find this in cream sauces, or paired with chicken. That means chardonnay and its full-bodied nature pair very well. Oakier whites are also good pairings. Think along the lines of a Bordeaux.
Popular in Greek cuisine, but also finding its way into stews, thyme pairs well with syrah and grenache.
Our best advice? Explore! Figure out which wine and herbs complement each other and make your meals and parties pop.