Add food and beverage pairings to your menu

When you’re looking to increase guest cheque totals at your restaurant, adding pairings to your menu might just do the trick. Suggestive selling, or upselling, becomes simpler when your team has the tools to easily pair complementary food and beverages.

Wine pairings are the traditional way to go, but there are other ways to boost your bottom line by matching other beverages with your menu items as well. From beer to mocktails, there’s an opportunity for restaurants to raise revenues and offer their guests an elevated experience with food pairings.

Here are some of the ways you can incorporate food and beverage pairings on your menu:


When pairing food with wine, there are a few things to keep in mind. Balance is important, so focus on balancing intensity, pairing mild food flavours with mild wines, and rich dishes with rich wines. The same rule applies to acid; acidic foods pair best with acidic wines. If you are matching wine with a dish that contains many flavours, focus on the most dominant taste to pair the wine.

Though pairings can be personal, there are some general guidelines you can follow to make the process easier. Pairing earthy flavours like mushrooms and lentils with pinot noir makes a nice meal. Cabernet sauvignon pairs nicely with red meat, while chardonnay complements fish and rich sauces.

Consider adding wine suggestions to your regular menu to entice guests to give them a try!


If you offer a wide variety of beers on your menu, why not put together a suggested list of pairings for your guests? While blondes go best with lighter dishes like salads and chicken, pale ales pair best with spicy foods, ambers complement a vast range of dishes, and strong ales go best with intense dishes featuring roast beef or lamb. Not to worry, though, almost any type of beer pairs well with your favourite burgers!

Flights have become popular in recent years, so you might offer a choice of beers with a sampler platter of complementing appetizers to offer something unique for your guests.

Hard seltzer

Alcoholic carbonated beverages have exploded on the scene in recent years, and they are expected to grow 30 per cent annually until 2028. As popular menu items, why not suggest ways for your customers to enjoy them best?

The secret to pairing hard seltzer on your menu is matching them up with similar food flavours. Consider complementary combinations like peach and barbecue, mango and Thai curry, lime and guacamole, lemon and spicy chicken wings.

There’s something for everyone when you pair hard seltzers with your menu go-tos, experiment with the flavours until you find your favourites!


Pairing isn’t just for alcohol! 57 per cent of global consumers plan to participate in Dry January, so spiffing up your mocktail menu with pairings may be a way to set you apart from your competition and get your guests trying something new.

Find balance with your pairing with combinations like strawberry soda and chicken, watermelon with spicy foods, and cucumber with salads. Mix and match according to what you like to offer guests some new and interesting choices.

You can always go traditional with tried-and-true pairings, switching the alcoholic versions to mocktails. Think virgin mojitos with tacos, pina coladas with coconut shrimp, martinis with oysters, and more. Whether you are simply adapting your alcoholic beverage menu or creating a menu just for your mocktails, select some pairings that will interest your guests and show off the flavours on your menu.

RELATED: Mocktails get a makeover as consumer demand rises

If you don’t want to feature pairings on your everyday menu, you can still include them in your restaurant on a happy hour menu, at corporate events, or on special nights you plan to host. Market your menu on your website, post videos on social media, and train your team so they can talk it up at the table. Once word gets around, you may even attract new guests to your restaurant to enjoy the experience.

In today’s competitive market, food pairings can help restaurants stand out by offering guests an elevated experience and that leads to higher guest cheques and increased customer retention. It also gives your serving staff something to talk to your customers about, building relationships, and getting guests engaged.