Appetizers? Check. Entree? Check. Wine? Uhhh…
You’re finally getting around to hosting that dinner party you’ve been promising to your friends. Sure, you can cook (or call a caterer), but you have no idea what wine to serve with the meal. You want to deliver the best possible experience for your guests and know that certain wines with certain foods will mutually enhance flavors, but how do you know which ones? Don’t fret — we’re here to help. This trusty beginner’s wine/food pairing guide is guaranteed to make your guests think you’re secretly a sommelier.
Chianti – This bold, well-rounded and flavorful wine is often served with red, tomato-based sauces. However, it also pairs well with creamy and oil-based sauces, as well as oily seafood dishes.
Zinfandel – Spicy and deep with berry flavors, this wine pairs perfectly with thick, tomato-based red sauces. But steer clear of creamy or oily sauces!
Cabernet Sauvignon – This red wine is a world favorite because of its versatility with different foods. It will enhance hearty and rich meals — cuts of red meat (steaks, ribs, brisket), tomato-based red sauces, duck, and more.
Pinot Noir – Another great, versatile wine because it’s a light red. It goes well with either tomato-based, creamy, or oil-based sauces.
Pinot Grigio – Best served with lighter seafood or creamy and oil sauces. Lemon chicken piccata, halibut and smoked salmon are all fantastic with a good pinot grigio. It can also go well with light red sauces.
Chardonnay – This is arguably one of the most favorite wines to pair with food because it has so many sub-varieties under the “chardonnay” umbrella. It works very well with a variety of dishes — mainly creamy or oily ones. Shellfish, grilled fish, vegetable pasta or risotto, creamy soups and sauces are some of the best pairings. While tomato sauces are better paired with other wines, you could get away with using a chardonnay with a very light red sauce.
Sauvignon Blanc – This very light white wine is perfect with most cheeses, salads, and light seafood and shellfish. Most lighter risotto dishes, artichokes, asparagus, and green veggies will be enhanced by a sauvignon blanc’s flavor.
Wine and food pairings can get very specific depending on a wine’s region, the subsets of each wine type, etc. We’ve barely scratched the surface here, but this beginner’s guide is sure to set you on the right path toward entertaining your guests.