Red wine and healthy food choices: The art of pairing

Red wine can be intimidating for some people, especially if you don’t know the right food to pair with it.

Red wine is known to help with longevity because of its high antioxidant content that can fight off free radicals, which are major contributors to the development of fatal diseases affecting one’s life span [1]. 

Pairing red wine with healthy meals is much more impactful for optimal body function and extending longevity

Pinot Noir

This type of red wine is commonly made from flighty, fragile and prone to obstinately weedy-flavored grapes. Pinot Noir is usually a major ingredient in making some Champagnes and sparkling wines. 

Moreover, Pinot Noir is considered an ethereal delicacy that has aged for decades. In fact, it is most memorably deemed as “the iron fist in the velvet glove.” 

In pairing Pinot Noir with healthy foods, you should choose recipes with earthy ingredients, such as mushrooms and lentils. Pinot Noir is naturally light-bodied but full of savory depth; hence, earthy-tasting foods can surely give you a great combination. 

One perfect example is salmon with Pinot Noir, as red wine and fish can really go well together. 

Red wine and healthy food choices: The art of pairing
Photograph: stokkete/Envato

Healthy meals to consider when drinking Pinot Noir: 

Khoresh bademjun: This Persian stew is made of eggplant and tomatoes that work well with Pinot Noir; however, its unique flavor combination allows more nuances to stand out. Cinnamon helps in highlighting baking spices, while lime extracts add more high-toned brightness. 

Grilled cauliflower steaks with romesco sauce: Cauliflower is a highly-nutrient vegetable with anti-inflammatory effects [2] and has been a great alternative for carbs and meats. The nutty quality of grilled cauliflower suits Pinot Noir’s mushroomy taste. Meanwhile, the romesco sauce contains spice and pepper, which provide an added flavor that is also good for health. 

Vegetarian ban mi: A fruity Pinot Noir red wine is perfect for the spicy-creamy taste combination of the Vegetarian ban mi’s sauce. Plus, the firm chew of the chickpea mixture is weighty enough to add a great palate texture. 

Pinot Noir is also great with roast turkey and roast lamb combined with creamy, mild soft types of cheese. Some examples can be goat’s cheese and cranberry tartlets, seven-hour lamb and lamb en croûte with redcurrant sauce. 

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Here’s another type of red wine with a plush texture and lush red fruity flavors. 

Merlot’s silky, supple tannins work well with proteins, such as chicken, beef, duck, lamb or pork, especially when roasted or baked. 

Healthy meals to consider when drinking Merlot:

Tempeh bourguignon: Bourguignon originally goes with beef, but you can substitute it with tempeh for a healthier option. It is made of partially-cooked soybeans and fermented with rhizopus, which is a type of mold. Tempeh Bourguignon is braised in Merlot with carrots, onions, garlic, onions and mushrooms.

Sausage and peppers: This meal is simple and yet works well with Merlot because the heat brings out the fruity taste of red wine! Olives of sausages can bring out the umami flavor of Merlot, while the sausage and peppers highlight the fruity taste. 

Vegetarian kofta: Originally, kofta is made of ground lamb or beef, but you can substitute the protein with vegetables. Vegetarian kofta includes onions, garlic and spices. You can use black beans with jalapeno to perfectly blend the recipe to Merlot. It can also be served with pita, salads, dips and sauces. 

You can also pair Merlot with roast duck and chicken with sticky carrots. 


Syrah, also called Shiraz, refers to a dark-skinned grape that is produced as red wine. It goes well with highly spiced dishes, whether for meat dishes or vegetable meals. Syrah made from Washington or France’s Rhône Valley, Cabernet Franc from the Loire and Xinomavro from Greece are all great options for spiced-up meals. 

However, just be careful with meals and try to avoid other high-alcohol wines as they only amplify the sizzle.

Healthy meals to consider when drinking Syrah: 

Socca: This recipe is the same with omelets or crêpes in that almost anything can be added. It has a bomba paste that goes well as a foil for Syrah’s bold fruit. Socca dish is hefty enough to be paired with a bolder wine like Syrah. 

Ratatouille: Syrah is commonly found throughout Southern France, so it is naturally good with the region’s cuisine, just like Ratatouille. This dish makes use of fresh, natural ingredients that highlight Syrah’s dark fruits. Meanwhile, the herb ingredients bring out the floral-like flavor. 

Jackfruit pulled pork style: This dish has a spicy-sweet combination that makes Syrah’s versatility stand out. You can choose a much fruitier Syrah to fully highlight the spiciness of the jackfruit pulled pork style.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is considered to be one of the world’s most widely recognized types of red wine. Surprisingly, it is grown in major wine-producing countries with various climates, mainly Australia, British Columbia, Canada and Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley. 

Healthy meals to consider when drinking Cabernet Sauvignon: 

Chimichurri with grilled portobello: Chimichurri with grilled portobello is perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon. Not to mention portobello mushrooms are also super healthy, as they have low in calories with 15 varying vitamins, minerals and antioxidant phytonutrients, such as copper, selenium and B vitamins [3]. Chimichurri dish mimics the grilled meat that Cabernet Sauvignon can be well-blended, and it also brings out the flavor of bright herbs. 

Oeufs en meurette: The chocolate ingredient of oeufs en meurette is the main booster of this dish when combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Tuna with spice rub: Tuna is also a great way to boost up your healthy meat recipes as it has lesser fat but has the same heft. The spice mixture of the dish really works well with Cabernet Sauvignon’s black fruit and eucalyptus notes.

Moreover, Cabernet Sauvignon works well with slow-roast lamb with cinnamon, fennel and citrus, beef fillet with beetroot and horseradish and coq au vin with plump prunes. 

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Zinfandel is another type of red wine that works well with pâtés, mousses and terrines. This type of red wine can be characterized by its rustic, savory and rich flavors. Some spice- and fruit-made Zinfandel contains a natural affinity for barbecued or sauce-slathered proteins. 

Healthy meals to consider when drinking Zinfandel: 

Basque garlic soup: The smokiness of paprika paired with toasted bread can bring out Zinfandel’s flavors, while the sherry highlights barrel aging. Basque garlic soup is a simple yet healthy dish, especially perfect on colder nights.

Puttanesca sauce – Zinfandel is related to southern Italy’s Primitivo, so it naturally works with spicy southern Italian dishes, just like puttanesca sauce. Zinfandel can taste zesty, similar to puttanesca sauce; hence, the amount of heat truly ends up being a personal preference. 

Falafel – Just like puttanesca, Zinfandel really works well with Mediterranean and North African meals. The spices of the dish give a boost to the red wine, particularly Zinfandel’s fruit. As can perfectly go well with a higher acid, Zinfandel can complement a creamier sauce perfectly as well. 

Red wine and healthy food choices: The art of pairing
Photograph: djoronimo/Envato

Malbec and Côtes-du-Rhône

The best kind of Malbec is produced in Argentina. This type of red wine has a fruity profile, making it a perfect pair for tantalizing cherry barbecue sauce slathered over a rack of ribs.

Malbec and Côtes-du-Rhône have a bold taste enough to drink alongside dishes brushed with heavily spiced barbecue sauces. You just need to be careful that the sauce does not have too much sugar, as it becomes less healthy. 

Healthy meals to consider when drinking Malbec and Côtes-du-Rhône:

Malbec is always best with grilled steak, steak with chunky chips and horseradish cream, steak and kidney pie and steak supper for two or more. 

Tips for healthy food and red wine pairing

Bitter red wine and bitter meals are a no: When you choose to eat bitter food, you better not have bitter red wine. The general taste buds are much sensitive to bitterness; hence, they will get your palate overwhelmed quickly. Red wine is much more bitter if it has more tannins. 

Pair earthy red wine with earthy-taste meals: While a combination of bitter meals with bitter red wine is a big no, a combination of earthy and earthy is perfect. Those old types of red wine are great with meals because of their tart and earthy flavors.

Match the sauce: To have great healthy food and red wine pairing, consider the taste of the sauce of your meal, especially for meat dishes. 

Red wine must be sweeter than the meal: Pairing less-sweet red wine with sweeter food will only give you bitter and tart tastes. Thus, you should always pair a sweeter red wine with desserts.

Research the type of red wine: Every type of red wine has its different and unique characteristics. It is recommended to know about each of them before thinking about what food to pair them with. Afterward, you can then focus on complimenting, and not overpowering, the type of red wine you choose with your meals. 

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The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.