food and beverage pairing techniques
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Offering food and drink pairings at your restaurant will elevate the customer experience, help you outshine the competition, and increase sales. Below, we look at some food and beverage pairing techniques you can implement in your restaurant menu.

How Important Is Food and Beverage Pairing for Your Restaurant’s Success?

While often overlooked, food and beverage pairing techniques can help you increase profits and stand out in the crowd by showing you care about the customer experience.

Your drinks menu should always complement your food menu. But if you go one step further and recommend food and drink pairings, you will reduce customer decision fatigue.

Not everyone will know which drink pairs well with the food they chose, and if your menu can make a recommendation, they will be relieved.

Not a lot of restaurants take the time to do this, so this will set your brand apart while increasing the customer retention rate.

Beer, Spirits, and Wine and Food Pairing Chart

To understand food and beverage pairing at a glance, here is a handy chart full of food and drink pairing ideas featuring the most popular types of beverages: wine, beer, and spirits.

food and wine pairing examples

Try These Food and Beverage Pairing Techniques to Boost Restaurant Sales

1. Learn food and wine pairing basics

The most common beverage in food and drink pairings is wine. So, what are the basic rules in pairing food and wine?

  • Acidity: For rich food like spicy Chinese dishes, crab cakes, or saucy foods like chicken alfredo, you should go for acidic wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
  • Sweetness: Pair spicy and salty dishes with a sweet or semi-sweet wine like a Merlot or Garnacha.
  • Tannins: Tannins are naturally found in red wines and give them a slightly bitter taste. They can also accentuate spiciness, so don’t pair them with Mexican or Thai food. For red wine pairing, choose prime rib, ribeye steak, or roast duck. Excellent examples of red wines are Zinfandels, Cabernet Sauvignons, and Malbecs.

2. Consider food and beer pairing to attract a larger audience

While food and wine pairings are very popular, people also like the option of pairing their food with a nice beer. Here are some food and beer pairing rules to keep in mind:

  • Light lagers go well with spicy food, salads, and burgers.
  • Wheat beers work with spicy food and fruity desserts.
  • IPAs (India pale ales) pair well with steak, barbecue, and Mexican food.
  • Amber ales go well with pizza, fried food, and smoked pork.
  • Dark lagers work with pizza, burgers, and hearty stews.
  • Brown ales pair exceptionally with sushi, fish, or sausage.
  • Porters go well with seafood, game meats, and coffee-flavored desserts.
  • Stouts are paired well with shellfish, Mexican food, and chocolate desserts.

3. Choose the best food and drink pairings for your main dishes

When thinking what are the best food and drink combos you can try at your restaurant, think of your main dishes and go from there.

Get inspired by these food and beverage pairing techniques for specific foods:

  • Poultry: White poultry meat pairs well with white wine like Riesling (for saucy dishes) or Chardonnay (for roasts). Dark poultry meat requires red wine.
  • Pork: Choose light red wines (Pinot Noir), acidic white wines (Chenin Blanc, Riesling), bold stouts, or wheat beers.
  • Beef and lamb: For steak or beef roasts, choose a hearty red like a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, or Super Tuscan, or an amber ale, pale ale, or light lager. For lamb, choose a lighter red wine, such as an Italian Chianti or Pinot Noir.
  • Fish and seafood: Chardonnay is the perfect wine for fish, while Champagne works well with lobster, shrimp, and scallops.
  • Spicy food: If you serve spicy food, choose light, acidic white wines, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, or beers like Belgian ale or IPA.
  • Desserts: With desserts, find the balance between acidic and sweet. Choose a semi-sweet sparkling wine or Champagne. Dark fruit pies work well with a Zinfandel, pecan pie with port, apple pie with Gewürztraminer, Crème Brûlée with Moscato, and dark chocolate desserts with Shiraz.

4. Brainstorm some non-alcoholic cocktail and food pairings

Not everyone can or wants to drink alcohol while at a restaurant. Cater to a larger audience by offering some unique non-alcoholic drinks and food pairings.

Design some non-alcoholic cocktails based on the following ingredients:

  • Green tea for sushi
  • Grape juice for pizzas
  • Ginger for Indian food
  • Lemon for seafood
  • Unsweetened ice tea for steak
  • Sparkling white grape juice for fried chicken
  • Sweet tea for barbecue
  • Cranberry or pomegranate juice for chocolate desserts

5. Organize an event with an exclusive food and wine pairing menu

Show off your food and beverage pairing techniques in an exclusive wine-tasting event where your staple dishes can complement the drinks.

This will break the monotony at your restaurant and attract more customers with the promise of a fun evening tasting a wide variety of foods and wines.

Forge strong partnerships in the community by looking for local wineries and distributors who are willing to collaborate with you for this special event.

6. Create food and drink combos for online ordering

Customers who prefer to order food at home shouldn’t be denied the opportunity to explore food and beverage pairings. You can easily recommend drinks with certain foods by creating combos that you display at the top of your online menu.

wine pairing restaurant

Watch the video tutorial below to learn how easy it is to create a food and drink combo using GloriaFood’s promotions module:

Suggest food and drink pairings by creating an irresistible combo offer Set up a food and drink combo in minutes with GloriaFood’s promotions module

7. Offer food pairing promotions to encourage customers to order more

If customers can enjoy a professional food and drink pairing and save some money in the process, they’ll surely order from your restaurant again.

Offer promotions showcasing your food and drink pairing techniques such as a free drink if they purchase an appetizer and main dish, or a 10% discount for a main dish and drink combo.

food and beverage pairing techniques

Learn how to create a variety of restaurant promos in the tutorial below:

Wrapping up

The food and beverage pairing techniques outlined above will help you improve upon your restaurant menu while offering customers an enhanced experience that they’ll keep coming back to again and again.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.