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Perfect Food and Drink Pairings for Every Occasion

Food and drink are meant to be enjoyed together, and the results can be better than the sum of their parts if you know what to pair together. Fortunately, there are plenty of expert recommendations on what food and drinks go together. Whether you want to turn your next party into a full-on night to remember or make your business luncheon memorable, these food and drink pairings are sure to help you out.

 

A Happy Hour Guide

When it comes to planning a happy hour, there are few things more crucial than drinks and snacks. But when you get down to it, not all drinks pair with every snack or vice versa. With so many different options, it can be hard to know which combinations work best together without accidentally making an alcohol-and-sugar bomb or one of those combination platters that leaves you with no food on your plate but three cupcakes. Fear not: we’ve broken down popular drinking scenarios into their ideal foods, both savory and sweet.

 

A Summer BBQ Guide

A proper summer cookout is a time to relax with family and friends, enjoy good food, drink plenty of ice-cold beer, roast some hot dogs, play some lawn games. It’s also a time to reflect on your neighbors: that guy who drops off his recycling twice a week but never says hi; your wife’s ex-husband; that smartass kid who used to torment you in high school until you beat him up; etc. Consider throwing a summer BBQ where you invite all your neighbors—even those you don’t like very much—to partake in some delicious food and drinks. A little alcohol loosens people up…or makes them angrier at one another.

A Winter Cocktail Party Guide

Let’s be honest: A night of heavy drinking on a winter night is probably not going to end well unless you have a plan. Here are some ideas of things you can do to ensure a fun evening is had by all—and where you wake up in your own bed at least somewhat satisfied. (See also: What You Need to Know About Serving Alcohol at Your Next Party)

A Tea Party Guide

Most people’s first thought when thinking about pairing food with drinks is, A nice glass of red wine goes well with a steak. While that is true, you shouldn’t stop there if you want to truly get your party on. This guide will show you how to plan your ideal party by selecting drinks that complement your food and make it delicious. The best part? You can do all of it while staying at home—no worries about driving. What are you waiting for? Don’t forget to take notes!

An Afternoon Coffee Break Guide

Whether you enjoy your morning with a cup of coffee or after a meal, pairing your drink with a snack or dessert is sometimes just what you need to cap off your day. Of course, knowing which pairings are best can be hard without some guidance. Here are some suggestions from experts on how to make sure your next coffee break is an occasion worth remembering: • A light-bodied roast pairs well with soft cheeses like brie and fresh chèvre. • A medium-bodied roast complements hearty breads like sourdough rye, whole wheat bagels, or rustic Italian loaves.

An Upscale Dinner Party Guide

For an upscale dinner party, remember to create a mood. You don’t want to go overboard with brightly colored tablecloths or overly formal China. That said, you don’t want to feel like you’re eating in your basement, either. Choose items that aren’t too expensive but also aren’t mass-produced plastic plates, cups and utensils. Also consider hosting an elegant get-together on a weeknight when people have time to relax: The food is probably still going to be delicious even if it isn’t served at 7pm sharp.

An Apéritif-Only Appetizer Party Guide

When hosting an event, it’s often a good idea to mix up your approach by introducing a new dish or drink that guests may not be familiar with. A typical dinner party might involve appetizers, dinner and drinks. In other words, lots of food. And if you introduce an unfamiliar drink alongside an unfamiliar food (say, wine alongside sushi), it’s likely that guests will end up overlooking or skipping one of these elements because they don’t know what they like. An aperitif-only event (that is to say, just beverages) encourages guests to taste more of everything on offer—and give them some extra options to choose from beyond sipping their wine throughout dinner.

A Romantic Dinner Date Guide

While dinner dates are somewhat of a dying breed these days, they can still be special, fun occasions. That’s why it’s important to know how to choose your food and drink properly. Your wine can accentuate or clash with your meal depending on which foods you eat. You might have heard that you should stick with a red wine for dinner dates—but if you want to be cool, try mixing things up by trying some Pinot Noir instead! And although we recommend cheese as an appetizer, don’t order too much because creamy dishes like goat cheese will clash with your drink. Have fun experimenting with different food and drink pairings on your next date night!

Wine Cocktails Only Wine Enthusiasts Will Appreciate

Wine cocktails are both popular and delicious. However, unless you’re a wine enthusiast, you might not appreciate their complexity. After all, they combine wine with other ingredients like fruit juices or spirits. Mixing different flavors is not only risky because it can cause confusion in flavor balance, but it can also make your drink too sweet or alcoholic. So how do you pair food and drinks together without being a specialist? If you’re not particularly interested in pairing food and drinks together, skip to another section of your choice (or just enjoy what life throws at you). For those who want to pair food with drinks based on authenticity or taste compatibility, let’s get started.

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