Which wine will pair best with a meal? Or, which meal will pair best with a wine? It’s the number one type of question I get. But it’s really not that complicated, I promise.

Think about how you would go about decorating a room. If you’ve watched Sarah’s House, featuring the lovely Sarah Richardson, you’ll know she always chooses her key fabric first, the one that has all the colors she’ll be working with. Then she chooses the paint and accessories to pop from that key fabric. I think you know where I’m going with this…

The ‘fabric’ in our case is the meal. When pairing wine, we always want to start with the food that will be served. That dish will give us all the key flavors and textures to pair with. Then we start thinking about, is the dish light, or rich? Is one flavor dominant, like lemon, or is there a blend of flavors like roast onion, herbs, and pepper? Is it rustic or elegant?

Next, choose your color. What color wine do you think will go best?

Body – do you need a heavier bodied wine or lighter one? This will lead you to cool or hot wine regions.

Flavor intensity is important. The wine should bring out the best in the food and vice versa, never dominate and overpower. This is where the grape you choose will play a big role.

Most important though, is to have the courage of your convictions…

If you’re ordering for the table, or have chosen the wine for a dinner party, don’t let them see your fear! I’m convinced 99% of their reaction will be based on how confident you appear. So remember: be confident, be creative, and as Julia Child said, “Never apologize”!

Here’s a fun Pinterest graphic that my talented friend Susannah of Feast + West created based on my top pairing tips {I recently wrote a series of Wine 101 articles featured on her site, be sure to check them out}!