NZ red wine with the perfect meal

5 Perfect Dinners to Pair with Red Wine: A Match Made in Heaven

Whoever said that red wine is only meant for cold winter nights, curled up by the fireplace, clearly hasn't experienced the magic of a well-paired dinner.

Discovering the perfect combination of food and wine can elevate a simple meal into a symphony of flavours, transforming any dining experience into an unforgettable one.

But where do you even begin with so many red wine varieties and countless dishes to choose from? Or maybe you were gifted a red and can't decide what to pair it with.

We've got you covered with "5 perfect dinners to pair with red wine" that are indeed a match made in heaven. Shopping with Alana makes it even easier, with a wide range of reds online delivered right to your doorstep.

Key Takeaways

  • Grilled steak and bold reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are a match made in heaven.
  • Tomato-based pasta dishes pair perfectly with Chianti or Sangiovese for an unforgettable dinner experience.
  • Roast chicken can be paired with versatile reds like Pinot Noir or Grenache.
  • Mushroom Risotto is perfect with earthy reds like Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo.
  • Elevate your cheese platter with diverse red wines such as Bordeaux, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, etc.

Table of Contents

  1. Grilled Steak and Bold Reds

  2. Tomato-based Pasta and Medium-Bodied Reds

  3. Roast Chicken and Versatile Reds

  4. Mushroom Risotto and Earthy Reds

  5. Cheese Platter and Diverse Reds

  6. Summary

  7. Frequently Asked Questions

steak paired with red win nz

1. Grilled Steak and Bold Reds

Something about a beautifully grilled steak or a tender braised beef calls for a bold red wine to accompany it. The savoury flavours of the meat and the tannins in the wine create a harmony that is hard to resist.

However, not every red wine pairs well with food. To pair red wine effectively, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, in particular, shine when served with a succulent steak dinner due to their robust profiles that beautifully complement the meat's rich flavours.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is undeniably one of the most popular and prestigious red wine grapes out there, and it's no wonder why it's an excellent choice for food and wine pairings, especially with grilled steak. The tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon bring out the charred texture of the steak, making it one of the best red wine pairings for this mouthwatering dish. Whether you prefer a classic Bordeaux blend, an Italian Super Tuscan, or some innovative blends from "New World" regions, there's a Cabernet Sauvignon for every grilled steak enthusiast.

For those seeking a non-alcoholic alternative, Le Petit Beret Cabernet Sauvignon is a brilliant choice for accompanying grilled steak.


Merlot, known for its versatility and approachability, is a fantastic match for a juicy grilled steak. This red wine's velvety texture and rich, fruit-forward flavours pair beautifully with a well-cooked steak's robust and savoury notes. The soft tannins in Merlot complement the tender texture of the meat, resulting in a seamless mouthfeel. Its notes of plum, cherry, and occasional subtle herbal undertones enhance the overall dining experience. The medium to the whole body of the wine stands up well against the boldness of the steak, resulting in a delightful interplay of flavours that tantalize the palate. This harmony of taste elevates the wine and the dish, making Merlot a perfect choice for those seeking an unforgettable and satisfying culinary experience.


Another great contender in the realm of steak-compatible reds is Malbec. This full-bodied red wine boasts ripe fruit notes and an easy-drinking style, making it a fantastic choice for food pairings with dark meat poultry and lean meats, including our beloved grilled steak.

Malbec's rich and fruity profile pairs wonderfully with the juicy and savoury flavours of the steak, creating a perfect balance in every bite. And don't forget, Malbec is also a versatile red wine that pairs perfectly with dishes like burgers. So, whether you're grilling up a hearty steak or a mouthwatering burger, Malbec has got you covered.


pasta paired with nz red wine

2. Tomato-based pasta and Medium-Bodied Reds

Moving on from steak, let's talk about another classic dinner option: tomato-based pasta dishes. To create a delicious harmony of acidity and flavors, consider pairing your pasta with medium-bodied red wines like Chianti and Sangiovese. These wines enhance both the dish and the wine, making it an experience you won't soon forget.

Thus, when you next find yourself twirling spaghetti on your fork, consider accompanying your meal with a glass of Chianti or Sangiovese for an elevated dining experience.


With its notes of red fruits, tomatoes, and dried oregano, Chianti is a fantastic wine to pair with hearty dishes like tomato-based pasta. The acidity and flavors of Chianti complement the rich tomato sauce, creating a well-balanced and satisfying pairing.

Whether you prefer a young, fruity style or a more mature and robust Chianti, this versatile, wine-like beverage will surely enhance your pasta dinner experience.


Sangiovese, another popular red wine grape variety from Italy, is known for its expressive cherry flavour and subtle notes of fruit and tomato. This versatile red wine pairs perfectly with a variety of tomato-based pasta dishes, from spaghetti and meatballs to lasagna and pizza. Sangiovese's fruity and balanced acidity harmonizes with the rich tomato sauce, creating a delightful combination that will have you reaching for another bite (and another sip).


Of course we cannot forget about the fabulous Merlot when making your tomato-based pasta dishes.  Check out the Merlot at Alana for an amazing flavour.  The Alana merlo with it's plum and cherry flavour - you cannot really go wrong. 

Don't forget to sprinkle some oregano, thyme, basil, or sage on your pasta to further enhance the flavors of your Sangiovese pairing.

roast chicken paired with nz red wine

3. Roast Chicken and Versatile Reds

Roast chicken is a versatile dish that can be paired with a wide range of wines, but versatile red wines like Pinot Noir and Grenache offer complementary flavors and acidity that make them an excellent choice. These wines work wonderfully with roast chicken's savoury and juicy flavours, ensuring that each bite is flavorful.

Hence, if a roast chicken dinner is on your menu, remember to pop open a bottle of Pinot Noir or Grenache to round off the meal.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, known for its lighter body and flavors of strawberry, cherry, and black plum, is an excellent choice when it comes to pairing with roast chicken. The medium body and earthy flavors of Pinot Noir complement the rich and savory flavors of the chicken, creating a well-balanced and delicious combination.

Therefore, the next time you roast a chicken or enjoy some roast beef, consider accompanying it with a bottle of Pinot Noir for an enhanced dining experience.


Grenache, or Garnacha, is a popular red wine grape variety known for its high alcohol content and fruity, full-bodied wines with bright acidity. While white wine has its own unique characteristics, the fruity and balanced acidity of Grenache pairs well with roast chicken dishes, creating a delightful combination that enhances both the wine and the dish.

Given its capacity to mature elegantly, Grenache is a superb option for those seeking a sophisticated red wine to accompany their roast chicken dinner.

risotto paired with red wine nz

4. Mushroom Risotto and Earthy Reds

A warm and comforting mushroom risotto, with its earthy flavors and creamy texture, begs for an earthy red wine to accompany it. Look no further than Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo for a sophisticated and memorable dining experience. Both of these wines offer complementary earthy notes and well-balanced acidity that enhance the rich and creamy flavors of the risotto, creating a harmonious and satisfying pairing.

Pinot Noir

As we mentioned earlier, Pinot Noir is known for its earthy flavors and moderate acidity. When paired with a creamy mushroom risotto, these characteristics come to life, offering a balance between the mushrooms' earthiness and the wine's acidity. This delightful combination is sure to impress your dinner guests and have them asking for seconds.


Nebbiolo, the 'King' of red wine in Italy, is known for its earthy and tannic profile, with hints of tar, leather, and dried flowers. The high acidity and alcohol content of Nebbiolo help to balance out the richness of mushroom risotto, making it a perfect match for this indulgent dish.

Thus, should you find yourself craving a creamy mushroom risotto, remember to open a bottle of Nebbiolo for a fulfilling dining experience.

cheese platter paired with red wine

5. Cheese Platter and Diverse Reds

A cheese platter featuring a variety of cheeses is the perfect opportunity to explore the diverse world of red wine pairings. From full-bodied Bordeaux with aged cheddar to earthy Pinot Noir with creamy Brie and bold Zinfandel with pungent blue cheeses, there's a red wine to enhance the flavors of each cheese. Whether you're arranging a wine and cheese night or indulging in a cheese platter for dessert, ensure you have a variety of red wines available to enhance the occasion. Pairing wine with cheese can elevate the experience and create memorable moments, making it essential to consider the art of wine pairing.

Bordeaux and Aged Cheddar

Bordeaux, a blend of grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, is known for its rich flavor and full-bodied profile. When paired with aged cheddar, the richness of the wine creates a nice balance with the sharpness of the cheese, making for a satisfying and indulgent pairing.

Next time you enjoy a cheese platter, consider adding some aged cheddar and a bottle of Bordeaux for a truly delightful pairing.

Pinot Noir and Brie

We've already discussed the earthy and fruity flavors of Pinot Noir, but did you know it also pairs beautifully with creamy Brie cheese? The earthy flavors and balanced acidity of Pinot Noir complement the creaminess of Brie, creating a luscious and harmonious pairing that will have you reaching for another bite (and another sip).

Don't overlook this delightful duo when you next assemble a cheese platter, as they pair well together.

Zinfandel and Blue Cheese

With its bold and fruit flavour profile, Zinfandel is an excellent choice for pairing with pungent blue cheeses like Gorgonzola, Roquefort, or Stilton. The bold flavors of Zinfandel help to balance the strong, salty flavors of blue cheese, creating a perfect harmony of flavors that is sure to impress.

When aiming to elevate your cheese platter, consider selecting a bottle of Zinfandel and an assortment of blue cheeses.

alana red wine


5 perfect dinners to pair with red wine:

  1. Grilled Steak and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Malbec
  2. Tomato-Based Pasta and Chianti or Sangiovese
  3. Roast Chicken and Pinot Noir or Grenache
  4. Mushroom Risotto and Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo
  5. Cheese Platter:
    • Bordeaux and Aged Cheddar
    • Pinot Noir and Brie
    • Zinfandel and Blue Cheese

Finding the perfect red wine to pair with your dinner can turn an ordinary meal into an extraordinary culinary experience. From bold reds with grilled steak to earthy reds with mushroom risotto and diverse reds with a cheese platter, there's a red wine to complement every dish.

Shopping online with Alana makes finding the perfect red wine for your next meal so much easier.

So, the next time you're planning a dinner, don't forget to consider these perfect pairings to elevate your dining experience and create unforgettable memories around the table.

Frequently Asked Questions

What dinners go well with red wine?

Red wine goes exceptionally well with steak, lamb, portobello mushrooms, hard cheeses, and slow-cooked dishes like beef and red wine casserole, one-pot chicken chasseur, beef bourguignon with celeriac mash, and slow-cooked lamb with onions and thyme.

What meat goes with red wine?

Wagyu rib-eye goes great with Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon for a bold, high-tannin experience, while eye fillet or lamb pair perfectly with Malbec or Pinot Noir for finer tannins.

How do you plan a wine-pairing dinner?

Planning a wine-pairing dinner starts with choosing the suitable dishes and wines to create an incremental flavour profile, starting with lighter, fresher dishes and ending with heavier ones. Consider your guests' preferences when selecting the wine and pair lighter wines with more delicate dishes, bolder wines with heavier dishes, and Rosé or sparkling wine as a safe bet. If the dish is salty, opt for a sweet or semi-sweet wine.

Which red wine should I choose for a tomato-based pasta dish?

We'd recommend trying a medium-bodied red wine like Chianti or Sangiovese for a tomato-based pasta dish.

What are some red wines that pair well with roast chicken?

Pinot Noir and Grenache are excellent choices for pairing roast chicken and are versatile red wines. They add a compliment of acidity that help balance out the meal's flavours.

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