Food Pairing Mastery: Elevating Dining Experiences Through Perfect Combinations

James Breuhl Thibodaux Louisiana

Some things just go together: peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese. One of the oldest pairings though is with food and drinks, such as wine or beer. James Breuhl of Thibodaux, Louisiana takes a look at the best techniques and pairings to enhance flavors and create an amazing dining experience.

Salty Dishes

It was James Beard, one of the most well-renowned chefs, who said, “Where would we be without salt?” and it’s true. Salt makes food more delicious and can really enhance flavors. For dishes that are on the saltier side, such as salted pretzels, pizza, or things with olives, try to pair them with drinks like champagne or porters.

These drinks tend to have a sweeter or nuttier taste, which complements salt really well. Because salt is already a strong flavor, the drink shouldn’t overpower the food with another competing flavor.

Earthy Dishes and Stews

“Earthy” can be described as soil-like, such as when a dish has mushrooms or potatoes. Light red wines, such as pinot noir, and red ales pair really well with earthy dishes and stews. The red color in both drinks are the result of tannins, either from grape skins for the wine or the roasted barley in ale.

Tannins themselves have a more earthy taste, which is why it doesn’t overpower dishes and stews and instead complements it really well.

Red Meat and/or Gamey Meats

By far one of the most popular ways to eat red meat is to have it with an alcoholic drink. Similar to earthy dishes and stews, some of the best drink pairings are red wines, especially merlots or cabernet sauvignon. These are deep red wines, meaning that they have an especially high tannin amount. The tannins counteract the bitterness that can be found in a lot of the red meat fat.

Creamy Dishes

If a dish is creamy or has a lot of dairy in it (cheese, milk, creams), then it’ll pair really nicely with a drink that has a crisp taste to it. Chardonnay is perfect because it tastes clean and feels refreshing after dairy, which is heavy.

Wheat beers and lighter ales will also go well with creamy dishes. The flavor cuts through the fat and doesn’t make the person feel like they’re weighted down afterwards. Additionally, for a dish that is extra creamy, like alfredo sauce, a stout would pair best. These beers are very heavy but matches the richness.

James Breuhl Thibodaux Louisiana


There’s always room for dessert and the good news is that there’s a drink to pair with it! There are different kinds of desserts that will require different taste palettes.


For fruit-based desserts, it’s best to pair them with sparkling wines, such as champagne or prosecco. Fruit is already sweet by itself so having something light to drink won’t overpower the flavors.


Chocolate is similar to red meat in that it’s very rich, so people should pair it with hard liquors, such as rum or bourbon. There’s also a creaminess to chocolate, so a creamy liquer also goes well with chocolate desserts.

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