Food and drink matching

Eating and drinking is big business, worth nearly £90bn a year. With as much competition there is out there, why not make sure you offer that little extra and perfectly pair food and drink that compliment one another

The importance of food led occasions has grown significantly over the last 10 years and we are living as a ‘foodie’ culture.

Food and drink pairing is becoming more important to consumers as they seek out enhanced experiences, and with range being an important driver to outlet choice, it is more important than ever to deliver great tasting food and drinks.

This section will provide you with food and drinks pairing across wine, soft drinks and beer to cater for all your guests needs.

The basics

Flavour experience is made up of the main sensations of taste, touch and smell.

While tasting food and drink we detect the 5 basic tastes in our mouth and on our tongue: sweet, salt, bitter, sour and umami

When pairing food and drink, balance is the key word when it comes to perfect matches: neither drink nor food should overpower each other. You should look to pair food and drink that have similar characteristics.

As an example, Acidic drinks are well-paired with salty, oily and fatty foods as the acidity cuts through the fat & balances out the taste.

5 Golden Rules

Weight: Ensure the weight of the food matches the weight of the drink

Intensity: Flavours should work together in harmony to avoid the food or drink over powering one another

Acidity: Acidic drinks work well with sweet, oily/fatty and salty foods as they cut through and contrast

Heat: Hot and spicy dishes can be cooled by sweeter/smoother style drinks

Sweetness: Drinks should be more sweet when paired with sweet food or the flavours will appear bland

Drinks growing in relevance

All drinks categories playing an integral role to the eating out experience, it is important to consider pairing food across various drink types

Don’t forget about the importance of pairing soft drinks with food – soft drinks are the no.1 drink consumed with food (7 in 10 food occasions involve a soft drink). Wine and beer are also important as they tap into different needs.

Pair with wine, beer or soft drinks

Traditional food pairing can be achieved across all drinks categories including wine, beer and soft drinks.

For example, if you were to pair a fish dish with a light dry white wine, serve light coloured beers and soft fruity softs drinks that are crisp and refreshing.

Or if you were pairing heavy dark meat with full bodied red wines, consider serving an amber beer or a bold caramel cola to balance more robust flavours in the food.

View the 10 food categories and drinks pairing guide