Top down view of used winecorks wallpapered together. Image: MALERAPASO/ISTOCK

Tasting wine engages four senses: sight, smell, feel, and taste.

When selecting the wine just right for you and your cuisine, consider aromas, weight, and structure of the wine. A quick swirl of the glass will lift the aromas up to your nose. This action will also reveal how the wine coats the glass, an indicator of the wine’s weight. Sip the wine to taste and aerate the wine by breathing in slightly through the liquid; this will allow the nuanced elements of the wine to become more pronounced. Consider the different types of flavors that become apparent. Is it herbal, savory, or mineral? What color fruit flavors do you taste? Is the fruit fresh or stewed? Observe the levels of acidity and tannin. Acidity promotes salivation and a feeling of vibrant freshness, while tannin is the element in wine that leaves behind a dry palate sensation. Both offer structure and link together different flavor profiles.

Two General Rules of Wine Pairing

You can think of wine pairing as falling under two general rules of thumb I call “yin-yang” and “parallel.”


Yin-yang is the complementary way of pairing. Serving a dish that is high in fat with a wine that has ample acidity and tannin is a yin-yang approach. When combined in our mouths, opposing elements harmonize with delicious results.


Parallel pairing is all about aligning comparable flavors in glass and plate to amplify each other. For example, combining green, acidic, or herbal foods with wines that reflect, or parallel those notes, supports and augments the characteristics in both the glass and the plate. Truly, multiple different wines will fit well with any dish, and in the end, it’s up to you which one is the best fit for your palate.

Read More About San Diego County Wine

Tour group at Ramona Ranch Vineyard & Winery during Beneficial Habitat on Working Lands workshop. Image: Courtesy of RCD of Greater San Diego County.

» Certified Sustainable Wine Makers Balance Business with Wild Beauty

» What is Natural Wine and Where to Drink It

» Four Top Sommeliers on Where to Drink Wine in San Diego

Article excerpt from Letting Flavor Lead the Way originally published in issue 72.

Jars of apple-ginger sauerkraut surrounded by golden sunflowers and persimmons. Photo by Becka Vance for Edible San Diego.
Cover image by Becka Vance for Edible San Diego.

Disclaimer: Must be 21+ to consume alcohol. Please drink responsibly.

About the Contributor
Patrick Ballow
Patrick Ballow is a San Diego native that has worked in the San Diego wine industry since 2005. He opened Vino Carta in 2016 and continues to manage the Little Italy location. He is one of the co-organizers of Nat Diego, San Diego’s yearly natural wine fair. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with his two sons, cooking for friends and family, snow skiing, and playing tennis.‍