Our best defense is to be prepared. It's not always easy to do but if we take a minute or two to think about what our plans might be for the season, we can get started on the "to do" list a little at a time and the earlier we start the better! Yes?
Whether you are hosting dinner or will be the invited guest this "Back to Basics" guide can help you make your wine selections for the holiday celebrations.
To keep it simple and easy serve both a white and red wine with a large meal. This will usually cover all the dishes we're feasting on.
Back to Basics Guide
One of the best ways to select wine is to look at the elements of the dish. Many times the dish will have a sauce or a strong element such as citrus or hot/spiciness. These elements will determine the wine selection.
CREAM sauces: Choose wines that have crisp acidity.
- White wine suggestions: Pinot Grigio, dry Riesling
- Red wine suggestions: Light reds such as Italian Barbera, or even dry rose.
TOMATO sauces: The "rule" to choose a wine from the same region as the origin of the food works for this element. Traditionally, tomato based dishes and Chianti go hand in hand.
- Red wine suggestions: Chianti, Primitivo (Italian zinfandel)
SALT: Foods high in salt pair well with either high acidic wines or sweet wines. Some of the lower sodium dishes will pair well with light, off-dry or lightly sweet wines. Avoid wines that have strong tannins.
- Salty food dish wine suggestions: Sauvignon Blanc, most sparkling wines or a fruity semi-sec rose (lightly sweet)
- Lower sodium dish wine suggestions: Gewurztraminer, dry Riesling, Viognier, Beaujolais
CITRUS: Citrus and vinegar in dishes are acidic. The "rule" of pairing like with like holds very true for this food element. Pair an acidic wine with acidic foods.
- White wine suggestions: Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, most sparkling wines
- Red wine suggestions: Zinfandel
SPICY: Spicy foods need a wine that will not compete with the dish. Avoid high alcohol, tannic red wines and oaky whites. Choose lower alcohol, fruity whites, and/or slightly sweet wines.
- White wine suggestions: Off-dry Riesling and Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, rose, sparkling wine.
- Red wine suggestions: Zinfandel if the dish is meat based.
SWEET: The "basic" rule of pairing desserts is choose wine with a slightly sweeter character than the dessert. Fruit based dishes will have a touch of acidity and can handle fruit-forward wines and some acidity.
- Wine suggestions: Moscato d'Asti, Prosecco, rose wines that have similar sweetness to the desserts.
Here is a little more information for wine pairing, vegetarian pairing and dessert pairing.
I have a simple philosophy: Don't stress over the perfect food and wine pairing. Friends and loved ones are the most important ingredients.