You are hosting your first formal dinner party and you need everything to be just right. You have decided on the menu, but a walk through the wine aisle leaves you feeling ill equipped to select the perfect wine(s) to accompany your meal. Sure, you can go with the rule, “The wine you like is the one to drink”, but how do you know you are properly matching the flavors?
Determining what wines to use isn’t rocket science, nor does it require an extensive knowledge of wines – although the more you know, the easier it will become to pair wines and food! These tips from the wine pros will help you look like a long time oenophile (one who loves wine and understands its nuances) or perhaps even, a sommelier (professional wine experts).
Tips for Pairing Foods and Wine
· Choose similar flavors. For instance, if the meal has citrus elements, then a wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay will complement the citrus tones.
· Match the sweetness levels of the food. The amount of sugar in the dish should be equal or slightly less than the flavor of the wine. So, roasted pork or chicken, or an apple dessert will pair perfectly with a Riesling.
· Does the dish have salty elements such as feta cheese, olives, shellfish, or crisp savory topping? Then serve it with a crisp, dry white wine such as Sancerre, Chables, or Albarino.
· If your menu has some spicy elements to it, then consider sweeter wines like Riesling, Moscato, or Malvasia, as these offer a balance.
· What color is the food? Look at the items on your menu, and pair accordingly. For instance, citrus based items go best with pale yellow wines, red meats go great with red wines – steak and Cabernet, anyone? – Desserts with berries go beautifully with rich, sweet reds.
· Will sauces be served? If so, then pair the wine to the sauce rather than the food the sauce is used for. For example, red meats with a dark sauce or gravy go best with Merlot, Cabernet or Syrah; heavy cream sauces should be paired with a Chardonnay; and light citrus sauces, scampi and risotto go beautifully with Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Savignon Blanc.
· Is your menu slightly heavy? The use a wine rich in tannins that can cut through food fat. These wines include Cabernet Savignon, Monastrell, Malbec, and Syrah.
· When serving foods known for their acidic content, use a wine that is equal to or higher in acid. For instance, for tomato based dishes use a Pinot Noir, Gamay, or Zweigelt.
· Having just desserts? Be sure to have a collection of red and white sweet wines, as well as a couple of sparkling wines such as Prosecco or Cava.
Color, sweetness, crispness, spicy – understanding how these and the other elements work together to enhance the nuances of flavor are all it takes to turn your dinner party debut into a raging success. You will impress your guests, and not need to be stressed out. Bear Claw Vineyards looks forward to being a part of your dinner parties. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding wines and your menu, so please don’t hesitate to ask. Cheers!