The Process to Understanding Effective Pairings

So what are the steps to learn how to pair? I will explain the steps in future articles and then my method for more effective pairings. First, here are a few things that we need to look at to help us understand how to understand pairing the beverage with food: 

I would explain to my classes that there are five levels to understand pairings. None of them are complex, but as we proceed down the list, they get more intensive in information to learn: 

  • Basic Sensory Evaluation techniques.
  • Understanding the ingredients in a beverage. 
  • Understanding the production methods for creating the beverage. 
  • Understanding any laws that may influence regions (and therefore would affect the final beverage). 
  • Remember all of the above while trying to do the same with the food. 

It sounds incredibly complex, but it is easier than you think. I love being a sommelier and understanding beverages on another level. However, I also know that about 80% of what we know is background information to help us judge if something is good (i.e., not flawed; healthy) and typical for the region, producer, and laws. Then I consider how to pair it with food. 

My goal is to make it easy for you to understand to make some good decisions on what and how to pair. I will explain the above five levels to you in more detail in future articles. For the moment, please remember this statement: 


If you come up with a food item and pair it with something you love, then go with it. I would never tell you that you should not do it or wrong. I might suggest trying other things, but ultimately, your happiness is key to me. Nothing is better in this industry than seeing someone smile when they are thoroughly enjoying themselves 

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Chef Brian Hay

Art of the Pair, Certified Executive Chef, Certified Sommelier (CMS, ISG), Certified Specialist in Wine, Certified Culinary Educator, & Certified Specialist in Spirits 

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