How to Host a Pairing Dinner

how to host a pairing dinner

A great way to up-sell in your bar or restaurant is to consider coupling your drinks with specific plates.  Although pairing dinners are most common with wine, they can run the gamut of any beverage these days, as long as it is done right.  With so many complex flavors, it may seem daunting at first, but with these few simple suggestions, your dinner should go off without a hitch.

Why a Pairing Dinner?

These events are meant to breathe new life into your establishment.  Not only will they draw in your regular guests, but it creates an opportunity to inform new guests about your concept and products.  Of course, establishing new customer relationships, will only contribute to your bottom line down the road.

Pick Your Menu

  • Plating: Start with your food.  Identify the most dominant flavors and characteristics of the dish, and pair accordingly.  For example: is the plate salty or sweet?  What is the texture of the food? 
  • Region: Try to stay focused on a specific region, such as French wines, or Belgium drafts.  You can be even more specific and offer beverages from a particular vintner or brewery.
  • Variety: The idea is to get your guests to broaden their horizons.  Consider a set of pairings, that start from light to dark, and ends with a nicely paired dessert beverage, like a port wine.
  • Taste the dish and drink separately:  Either should be able to stand alone as delicious, but if one or the other doesn’t deliver the best flavors, chances are the pairing will fail as well.
  • Contact an expert: If you are serving wine, a well informed sommelier can help guide you in the right direction.  Contact the brewery if you are serving craft beer, and get some inside information from them. 

Plan Accordingly

The first thing you should take into account is the size of your bar or restaurant, as well as the space available for the event.  Make sure you have all the selected beverages in stock, as well as a defined area for the dinner.

Your staff that is helping to host the event should be fully updated and knowledgeable of everything being served, so they can answer any questions in a well-informed manner.  You should always expect there will be many questions with any pairing dinner, as people discover new flavor profiles and delicious pairings. 


Once everything is in order and planned accordingly, it’s time to promote your event.  Send e-mails, take advantage of social media, like Twitter and Facebook.  Make sure your business website is updated.  You can even post a sign or create fliers.  Lastly, make sure your customers coming in are made aware of the upcoming event.

TapHunter is a new technology that can help you promote your pairing dinner.  Their digital drink menus will hook right up to your T.V., and promote the event through a series of ads that cycle through your displayed menu.  Guests can be informed in real time, the details of the event and when it is being held.