Throwing a Dinner Party?
Pan Seared Duck w/ Lioco Mendocino County Pinot Noir 2018Photo by: Lucy Beuchert

Throwing a Dinner Party?

Some Basic Tips for Food & Wine Pairing

Sparkling Wine:

Sparkling wine (especially Champagne) is not only a great way to start a meal but can be an extremely versatile tool in the pairing playbook. But it’s important to understand what style you have. Tarter, more crisp, sparklers are great with hors d’oeuvres and things like salads with vinaigrettes. Rose sparkling can work really well with things like cheese and charcuterie, or even some lighter protein dishes. Richer styles can be one of the most fun pairings for the things you’d least associate with Champagne; think fried chicken and potato chips.

Crisp Whites:

One major philosophy of wine pairing is the idea of complimentary vs. contrasting flavors. Crisp whites can work the best on both sides. They pair well with lighter foods and things with good acidity (Complimentary). They can also be useful when used to contrast with richer dishes and refresh your palate while eating (i.e. things with butter and cream)

Gruner Veltliner:

There are some vegetables that are extremely difficult to pair with. Things like asparagus, brussel sprouts, artichokes, and green beans. When in doubt, Gruner Veltliner is the missing link in pairing these difficult foods.

Off-dry Whites:

We’re talking Chenin Blanc and Riesling here. Riesling often gets a bad name for being too sweet, and many are, but a properly made Riesling can be one of the most delicious whites out there. And a wine with sugar is an extremely useful tool. In fact, it is the only thing that can help you pair a white wine with spicy foods. So next time you want wine with some Asian or Indian take out, get yourself a nice Riesling or Vouvray Demi-sec.

Rich Whites:

Rich whites are great for complimentary flavors. Whites that see oak tend to have creamier textures and sometimes even a buttery flavor. These are best served with creamy pastas, buttery fish, and sometimes even popcorn!

Light Reds:

Light to medium reds like Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Cabernet Franc are great with Chicken or Pork. They also work well with your heartier seafood dishes and tomato-based pastas. You don’t want anything too heavy though or the wine can be lost.

Richer Reds:

When I think of big reds, I think of one thing: red meat. Cabernet, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Rioja are all great with a nice steak or a hearty braise. They have the body to stand up to flavors, and the fat in red meat actually helps to ease the tannins. Things like Zinfandel, Malbec, and Merlot can actually be great for things like Barbeque. They have a fruitiness and often an imperceptible amount of sugar that can balance well with the spices.

Pairing is a complicated thing, and it’s hard to perfect without trial and error. At the end of the day the best pairing for anything is what you like to drink. If you don’t like reds and want to drink a white with steak, go for it! If you’re unsure what to pair with something new, there is one basic rule of thumb in pairing: if it grows together, it goes together. A good Pinot Noir is a classic pairing for Boeuf Bourguignon, because what is the classic red wine of burgundy? Pinot Noir! Just have fun with it and enjoy the process.

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