Wine Pairings With Idaho Wine

Sipping on Idaho wine is an adventure in itself, but the art of pairing these exquisite wines with delectable dishes creates a sensory tasting experience that elevates both elements to new heights. 

In this blog, we will unravel the magic behind Idaho wine and food pairings, delving into the importance of this harmonious union, exploring various methods of wine pairings, and offering a guide to some exquisite local combinations that promise to tantalize the taste buds. Read on to unveil the layers of flavors!

A group of people sitting in an Idaho winery vineyard are toasting with Idaho wine and food in front of them.

How to pair wine with food

The truth about pairing wine and food together is that it can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. The main goal for a wine and food pairing is just to balance each other out, preventing one flavor from overwhelming the other. 

There are six main flavor profiles to keep in mind when pairing wine and food. In general, red wines are more bitter, white wines have more acidity and dessert wines are more sweet. Identifying which of these flavors are present in your wine or food will allow you to create the perfect match. Flavor profiles include:

  • Acidic
  • Bitter
  • Fatty
  • Salty
  • Sweet
  • Alcohol

When creating a wine pairing on your own, choose the wine based on the most prominent element in the dish. Most Idaho wine connoisseurs recommend pairing wine based on the sauce of the dish, but you can also utilize the seasonings or the main ingredient. Use the wine pairing chart below as a cheat sheet to create the perfect Idaho wine and food pairing.

An infographic titled “Wine & Food Pairing Chart”. It lists out different types of wine with food that pairs well beneath them. Wine categories include bold red, light/med red, rich white, sweet white, sparkling, and dessert wines. Foods include meats, cheese, desserts, and vegetables.


wine and food pairing methods

There are two methods to pairing wine and food: congruent and complementary. A congruent pairing is when you pair two similar flavors together to enhance the overall taste. Pair sweet foods like dessert with sweet wines like Moscato. This harmonious pairing brings out the sweetness in both the food and wine.

A complementary pairing is when you choose a wine with an opposite dominant profile than the dominating profile in your food. A common complementary pairing is steak and red wine. The fatness of steak is balanced out by the tannins in red wine, allowing the flavor of the meat to heighten and the dryness of the wine to be reduced. Complementary pairings help create more of a complex yet balanced experience.

idaho wine and food pairings

A cheese board of food with wine next to it on a table. People can be seen around the table eating the food and drinking the wine.

 pinot noir with smoky salmon

Pinot Noir is a light-to-medium bodied red wine that’s low in tannins and high in acidity. Idaho Pinot Noir is typically found in the South Central wine region where the grapes have it good! They benefit from the area’s diurnal shift, or warm days and cold nights, to create the perfect balance of natural sugars and acids. The South Central wine region features Cold Springs Winery and Holesinsky Winery who both serve and sell Idaho’s delectable Pinot Noir.

A plate of salmon over veggies. A glass of red wine sits on the table next to it.

If you’re looking for a healthy home cooked meal to pair with Pinot Noir, try this smoky mustard-maple salmon recipe from Health Matters. Pinot Noir offers a delicate and elegant flavor profile that complements the smoky and fatty nature of salmon. Pinot Noir also exhibits flavors of cherry, strawberry and earthy undertones of mushroom or forest floor. This provides a lovely contrast to the richness of salmon, creating a harmonious combination for your palate.

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Chardonnay is a rich white wine that’s best served chilled. With a symphony of natural, fresh flavors like crisp apples, pears and citrus, Idaho Chardonnay is one of the most popular white wines that’s incredibly versatile. 

Commonly found in the Coeur d’Alene & Sandpoint and Eagle Foothills regions, these grapes thrive off the unique granite soils and local climate. The slope aspect of the Eagle Foothills play an important role in sunlight reception, cold air drainage, frost and wind protection. If you’re wondering where you can sip on a glass of Chardonnay, we recommend stopping in at wineries like Coeur d’Alene Cellars, Pend d’Orielle Winery, Buckhorn Vineyards, Dude Dewalt Cellars, and Holesinsky Vineyard and Winery.

A  bowl of creamy turkey soup sits on a table surrounded by crackers.

For the perfect wine pairing, take a creamy oaked Idaho Chardonnay and match it with this creamy turkey soup from Idaho Preferred. Barrel aged Chardonnay provides a warm, buttery baguette sensation that compliments the creaminess of the soup for the ultimate comfort food pairing.

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viognier with  apricot glazed chicken

Viognier is a rich white wine that’s relatively high on the alcohol scale but contains the creamy texture of chardonnay. Idaho Viognier contains fruit aromas and citrus flavors with a gorgeous body and plenty of acidity, allowing it to pair easily with just about anything. 

Most commonly found in the Boise & Garden City region, Idaho’s dry Viognier is a regional masterpiece. Try a glass at one of the wineries within Boise & Garden City including Split Rail Winery, Telaya Wine Co., Rolling Hills Vineyard, Potter Wines, and Cinder Wines. Also, be sure to try out the award winning 2022 Viognier from Indian Creek Winery!

A plate of grilled apricot chicken surrounded by apricots

Dishes that incorporate fruit flavors and sweet spices will pair best with Viognier. Try out this apricot glazed chicken recipe from Idaho Preferred and pair it with an aged Idaho Viognier for a seamless yet tasteful experience!

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syrah with steak and potatoes

Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is a bold red wine with a full body and an alcohol kick that commands attention. With earthy notes and flavors of blackberry, Syrah displays a velvety texture with a peppery finish. This Idaho wine is typically found in the Lewiston & Moscow region where wineries and tasting rooms like Rivaura, Vine 46, Clearwater Canyon Cellars, Colter’s Creek Winery, Jovinea Cellars await to serve you.

Steak cut into strips sitting next to potatoes and a bottle of red wine.

The Syrah varietal is a great choice to be paired with a dense and heavy cut of red meat with rich marbling and high fat content. Syrah pairs perfectly with steak due to its heavy and robust nature that balances the steak while providing a counterpart to the richness of the meat. Try out the award-winning 2021 Syrah from Cinder Wines and pair it with this steak and potatoes recipe from Idaho Preferred.

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cabernet sauvignon with  pepperoni pizza

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most well-known red wine grape varietals. This bold wine has a full body and primary flavors of black cherry, black currant and baking spices. While this varietal grows throughout nearly all regions in Idaho, it can be primarily found in the Western Treasure Valley. Head to the wineries within this region to sip on a glass of cab while enjoying the views of rolling landscapes and vineyard-dappled hills. Wineries include Hells Canyon Winery, Bitner Vineyards, Kerry Hill Winery, Ste. Chapelle Winery, Hat Ranch Winery, Famici Wine Company, Sawtooth Winery, Koenig Vineyards, Snake River Winery, Huston Vineyards, Indian Creek Winery, and Vizcaya Winery.

Pepperoni pizza with peppers sitting next to a glass and bottle of red wine.

Sometimes you don’t feel like cooking a complex meal at home, and that’s why pizza was invented! Thankfully, Idaho wines pair perfectly with this meal too. Try out a bottle of the award-winning 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon from Vake Wine Co. paired with a classic pepperoni pizza. 

Pepperoni has a strong, savory flavor created with a mix of curated meats and spices. This requires a wine that can stand up to the intensity of flavors which is why we recommend Cabernet Sauvignon. This spicy red compliments the depth of bold flavors in pepperoni pizza.

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No matter the culinary adventure you embark upon – whether crafting a meal in the comfort of your home, savoring takeout delights, or indulging in the offerings of a local eatery – there's an Idaho wine ready to enhance every bite. But don’t just take our word for it, venture to an Idaho winery and immerse yourself in the art of wine pairings firsthand. Let the possibilities unfold on your palate; we're confident your taste buds are in for an unforgettable journey!