The Best BYO Wine Pairings

The Best BYO Wine Pairings

A guide to faking pretentiousness without taking TOUR214

The ancient Egyptians got a lot of things right. The angles of their pyramids, the fact they even built pyramids (inarguably sick), and maybe most importantly, the fact they liked to absolutely smash back wine. One painting of a New Year’s feast includes a woman saying “give me eighteen jars of wine, I always want to be drunk. My insides feel like straws”, which, like, yes, 100%. It’s so refreshing to understand that people have always been exactly the same. 

New Kingdom Egyptians drank with the sole and explicit aim of ruining themselves. It’s almost like looking in a mirror. The Egyptians, however,  did not have access to the plethora of wine that modern day students do. They drank what they got. You, however, have the entire world’s selection of bottles staring at you while you’re already running late, giving you some sort of choice-paralysing Netflix-effect. But never fear, Critic Te Arohi is here. Below is a comprehensive list of the types of wines to take to your next BYO, with food pairings and tasting notes included. It’s time to move past the days of drinking cheap sav and suffering from acid reflux afterwards. You can do better. 


Much like Ryan Reynolds, riesling is the sweetest of the whites. If you’re a pussy who doesn’t like the taste of wine, riesling is a good place to start. Instead of filling a used wine bottle with Scrumpy or RTDs, try a riesling because it’s the cruisers of the wine world. It’s fun, fruity and fresh, and the sweetness of the wine makes it perfect for pairing with delicate fish, or raw fish. That means Jizo BYO’s are perfect for this number. Or any other BYO if, once again, you’re a little bitch that can’t handle a dry wine. 

Recommended bottles: Giesen Riesling ($11) or Main Divide Riesling ($15–$20) if you’re feeling spenny.

Pinot Gris

The South Island pinot gris market has been on the ups in the past few years. While this means different flavours in the subsection, no student cares that much. But for you, that means it's cheaper than most imported wines. New Zealand pinot gris tend to be lighter and crispier, meaning they will pair very well with spicy food. So a bottle of pinot gris is perfect for your next Maharajas BYO, even if you’re the type for a mild butter chicken. Because pinot gris is often light and refreshing, it also means that the acid reflux threat is minimal, making you feel classier than you actually are, and you need all the help you can get. 

Recommended bottles: Forget Me Not Pinot Gris ($8 per bottle) or Stoneleigh Pinot Gris (about $15 per bottle).

Sauvignon Blanc

Sav blancs pride themselves on being fruit-forward, with herbal qualities from a chemical compound called pyrazines (See? Pyramids!). You can taste the high acidity of this wine, unlike the hidden notes of “tropical passionfruit” or “ripe white peach” that are advertised, whatever that means. Let’s just say that savs can be considered the Karen of wines. However, like pinot gris, the high acidity does balance out spicy food quite nicely. Therefore bring a bottle of this bad boy to your next Mexican BYO at Amigo’s or Alley Cantina. Then you’ll realise that this isn’t real Mexican food, and you can’t even figure out if your wine is acidic or not. 

Recommended bottles: Villa Maria Sav ($10.99) or Oyster Bay Sav ($14.90)


Chardonnay has the great potential of being one of the most alcoholic white wines. If you can’t drink reds but missed pres, a chard is probably a good avenue to pick. Chardonnay pairs well with butter or nutty flavours, so lots of seafood dishes and lighter flaky fish like halibut. Dunedin does lack in this department, so Critic Te Arohi recommends taking a bottle to Bluff and sneaking it in to pair with your fresh oysters. But, if you’re looking to get wasted quickly, then chardonnay is your best mate. 

Recommended bottles: Bay’n’Barnes Chardonnay ($10, Sign Up Club endorsed) 


Once you get over the stereotype that rosé is for white chicks and realise it’s your toxic masculinity that has an issue, not the wine, you’ll be free to experience the versatility and flavour of it. There’s heaps of types of rosé too, so this is just a generalisation. Rosé tends to pair well with soft cheeses, veggie pizza, or pesto. Next time you’re feeling fancy or like breaking gender stereotypes, buy a rosé and head to La Porchetta. Alternatively, it works as a good pairing at your next wine and cheese. 

Recommended bottles: Montana Rosé ($9) or Yealands Rosé ($15)

Pinot Noir

Diving into the red wines: first up is pinot noir, a versatile red that matches with most types of meat and fish. Local pinot noirs tend to be sweeter with undertones of “bright berry fruit”, whatever the hell that means. Next time you sit down at the tables of Golden Harvest or Chopsticks101, order a whole duck, pile it up with chilli oil, and bring yourself a pinot noir. 

Recommended bottles: Five Flax ($10)  or Last Shepherd ($20)

Cabernet Sauvignon

Fruity, ripe, and still very alcoholic, we have the delicious cab sav. Most red wines will always be more alcoholic than their white counterparts, an added benefit in Dunedin with the DCC’s ‘one bottle between two’ rule. This wine can hold its own against really meaty dishes, specifically red meat. Your rogan josh or other lamb curries will go hard with a cab sav. 

Recommended bottles: Wyndham Estate Bin 444 ($13) or Church Road Merlot Cab Sav ($15)


The most alcoholic of the basic reds is shiraz. Unsurprisingly, most shiraz come from Australia (although Shiraz is in Iran, so). If you want to be the fun one at a BYO, get yourself a shiraz, or a personality, either works. Shiraz is similar to a cab sav, as they are both “full-bodied”, meaning they’re alcoholic. That’s literally what full-bodied means, it just has to be fancy-sounding because it's wine. Pair it with a fatty mild curry and a garlic naan. It’s good for you. 

Recommended bottles: McGuigan Private Bin ($9) or Grant Burge 5th Generation ($15-$19) 

TLDR: wine is inherently pretentious but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a cheat sheet. Also if you want to sound fancy, mention how it's “light on the tongue” and “fruit forward” (if white) or “full bodied” (if red). 
Spicy food: chardonnay or pinot gris 
Raw fish/sushi: riesling 
Italian: rosé or pinot noir 
Red meat heavy: cab sav or shiraz 

This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2022.
Posted 6:44pm Sunday 29th May 2022 by Keegan Wells and Annabelle Parata Vaughan.