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An Exclusive Society Dedicated to Uniting Three of Life's Biggest Passions...


Turn your meal into a memorable event

When it comes to food and wine pairing, we believe in one simple rule: there are no rules! Everyone should feel free to experiment and drink what they want. Having said that, a good wine pairing creates a meal-altering experience. Here are some general guidelines that can help lead the way:



1. Acid Loves Acid
It's strange to think about acid in wine or food, but you know it when you taste it. Acidity in wine leaves your mouth feeling clean and dry. In pairing wine and food, acid does the following:

  • It makes rich ingredients or sauces like oils, butter and cream, less heavy.
  • It mirrors tart items such as vinaigrette, lemon, tomato and caper.
  • It lightens the flavor of oily fish and shellfish. For an example of this, try our Lincourt Sauvignon Blanc paired with Chef Carlo's Potato Leek Soup with Truffled Mushrooms and Prawns.

2. Tannins Love Fat
Tannins are derived from the skins, stems and seeds of the grapes. They are often described as the component that "dries the mouth out" in red wines. When a Cabernet makes you pucker and salivate, that's tannins, not acid. Over time, tannins give red wines structure and body, but in young red wines they can be quite strong.

When paired with food, tannins react in the following ways:

  • They enhance other tannins, so tannic wines don't pair well with foods that contain tannins such as asparagus, spinach, walnuts chocolate and many fruits.
  • It mirrors tart items such as vinaigrette, lemon, tomato and caper.
  • They are softened by protein and fat. This is why we often say a big, tannic wine needs to be paired with a steak. Protein and fat help subdue the tannins and reveal the fruit.
  • Try our 2008 Kuleto Estate Cabernet paired with Chef Carlo's Award Winning Rib Eye Recipe.

3. Spice Loves Sugar
Pairing wine with spicy food is always tricky business. A bad match can bring out the worst in both camps. The answer? A little sugar and a dash of acidity.

  • The natural sugar found in wines such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muscat will tame the spice and allow the inherent flavors of the dish to shine through.
  • The acidity often found in sweeter wines will also enhance the underlying flavors in a spicy dish.
  • For an example of this, try our 2010 Firestone Riesling paired with Chef Carlo's Potato Leek Soup with Truffled Mushrooms and Prawns. The hint of sweetness and acidity cools the fire and brings out the flavors in the prawns.

4. Sweet Loves Sweeter
Pairing desserts and sweeter foods can be a challenge, but it's so fun to experiment! One hint - try pairing sweet foods with sweeter wines.
For a wonderful pairing, try our 2010 Eos Estate Muscat Canelli with Chef Carlo's Roasted Apple Crème Brulee.

5. Stick Within Your Weight Class
Weight is a consideration in both wine and food. The weight of a fish such as Tilapia is much different from the weight of a leg of lamb. The weight of a typical Pinot Noir is much lighter than a big Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. But it's even more complicated than that. Steamed chicken is lighter than roast chicken served with a heavy butter or cream sauce. The key here is that we are pairing wine with food. One should never overpower the other.

6. Let the Star Shine
Again, this is food and wine pairing. Ideally, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and a successful pairing will result in rave reviews for both the food and the wine. Sometimes however, you have a special wine or an extravagant dish that you can't wait to share with friends. In this case, make sure the pairing will not detract from your key area of focus.

Now that you're armed with the basics, click here to learn more about some of the most popular varieties and the general properties they are known for.


 Learn More About The Society


Chalk Hill Estate Tour
Your tour will being with a discussion of the varied terroir of our 1300-acre estate, the Chalk Hill appellation, and our unique history and approach to viticulture. This tour includes tastings of our current wines. For reservations, email us at

Foley Estates Wine & Cheese Pairing
Experience five Foley Estate wines paired with artisan cheeses and breads. For reservations, email us at

Tasting with Gourmet Lunch from Wharekauhau Lodge
Toast Martinborough by enjoying a sumptuous lunch in the sun prepared by Wharekauhau's Executive Chef Tim Smith. For reservations, email us at

Featured RECIPES

Risotto con Funghi e Cabernet
This flavorful Risotto is the perfect accompaniment for your best meat dishes. This is a highly versatile dish that can be served any time of year.
View Recipe

Award-Winning Sonoma Rib Eye
This signature dish is slow roasted and smoked over wine barrel oak staves with Sonoma olive pesto and won the 2009 Best Beef in America Chef Challenge.
View the Recipe

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Shop the Exchange
Shop the Foley Food and Wine Exchange and have access to over a dozen Foley wine brands shipped right to your door.
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Ask the Wine Professor
Meet Stuart Ake, the FFWS Wine Professor, and submit the wine questions you've always been afraid to ask.
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