Believe it or not, a lot of people feel a great deal of anxiety over this one little choice: selecting a wine to go with a meal. This is especially true when they are choosing for a group. How do I know which wine to pick? How can I pick a wine that everyone will like? How do I know if it will pair well with the food? Relax! The choice is easier than you might think, and these five tips will help you along the way.
Tip One: Drink what you like! As we have said before, the most important thing is to pick a wine you enjoy. Ignore all the other factors for a minute, such as red or white, sweet or dry, expensive or inexpensive, chicken or steak. Forget it! What wine do you like? If you’re having guests, what do they usually drink? If you don’t know what your guests like, don’t worry about it, just focus on what you know. It is fun to experiment with different combinations, and over time you will find pairings that you love.
Tip Two: White & Light. Lighter foods like chicken and fish tend to taste better with similarly lighter wines which, generally speaking, are white varietals. Try barrel-fermented Chardonnay with a creamy chicken dish, or a Pinot Grigio for a light, flaky fish.
Tip Three: Heavy & Red. This tip goes along the same line as the second tip. Full-bodied reds will stand up better to heavier foods. Have Merlot with your red sauce pastas or Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice, juicy steak. The idea is to match the robustness of the food.
Tip Four: Opposites Attract. Sometimes it pays to choose a wine that is on the opposite end of the sweet/dry scale. Sweet wines can be great with spicy foods as they cut through some of the heat and refresh your palate for the next tasty bite. A lot of wine connoisseurs would frown at the idea of chocolate and red wine, but I personally think they are meant to be together. Dark chocolate and a dry red wine with plenty of smooth, berry flavors… pour me a glass!
Tip Five: Similar Tastes. This might contradict Tip Four, but matching tastes and aromas can also produce some lovely flavor combinations. Let’s say you cooked seared scallops for dinner and you’ve drizzled them with fresh lemon juice. You already know that white wine would be a good choice, but let’s narrow it down a bit. Look for something with citrusy notes, such as Sauvignon Blanc, to match the lemon from the scallops.
I can’t end this article without adding a sixth bonus tip: Google It! The internet is loaded with information and advice when it comes to wine, and you’re sure to find plenty of wine suggestions with a quick search for whatever you’re serving. Also, the tasting room staff here at Hawk Haven are more than happy to help you come up with something delicious. A lot of us love to cook, and we all love to eat and drink wine (who doesn’t?), so if you’re looking for a good pairing, all you have to do is ask! Don’t forget to share your favorite pairings with us!