Which wine for which meal?
I think it’s easiest to start learning about pairing food and wine by starting out with your favorite dish or favorite wine.
Example: Let’s say you cook up a very tasty pasta bolognese. Think about it. It is a fairly heavy dish and, therefore, requires a matching wine that will go well with the big flavors. I would try a Zinfandel to begin with but certainly Syrah, Merlot and Cab would all go nicely. Most Pinot Noir is probably too light for this meal.
Example: Let’s say you have a delicious and tasty favorite Chardonnay. It has a good amount of oak and some buttery characteristics. Plan your meal around this wine. I would go with chicken and a nice creamy sauce. Or, a pasta with a heavy cream sauce, as in penne pasta with vodka and heavy cream.
Make it easy to decide. Stick to these top seven wine varietals of California Wine.
- Oaky Chardonnay – dishes with cream sauces, cheese, shellfish
- Sauvignon Blanc – light foods, fish, chicken
- Pinot Noir – moderate to heavy foods – love salmon with Pinot Noir
- Zinfandel – pizza, pastas, red meats – the ultimate pizza wine
- Merlot – beef, pork, lamb – love a mushroom-stuffed pork tenderloin
- Cabernet – steak, steak, steak – love it with a Cabernet reduction sauce
- Syrah – red meat, but ideal with baby back ribs on the grill
As you begin to develop your wine skills, branch out into other varietals and wines from other countries. Tip: for foreign wines, see what the natives match with their wines. In Argentina, a Malbec wine is the perfect choice for a huge piece of grass-fed beef.