Five Most Food Friendly Wines For #SundaySupper

When I saw the theme for this week’s #SundaySupper – Dishes in 5 Ingredients or Less – my first thought was “Wow, that’s going to be a challenge”,  because I’ve seen the creativity and passion my  BFFs (Best Foodie Friends;-) bring to the #SundaySupper table. Then I thought, why not try to pair the undoubtedly diverse menu with only 5 five wines?  As I’m sure it was a challenge to use only 5 ingredients and still get great flavor, it’s challenge for me to limit myself to a list of the 5 most food friendly wines. Ah, but in challenge lies opportunity!

As I contemplated the five most food friendly wines, I kept coming back to wines that are flexible in structure and in style. By structure, I mean all the wines have a great backbone of acidity, a core of succulent fruit, lower alcohol, and modest or no tannins.  What I mean by style is that the grape produces wines in a wide range of styles from light to full-bodied.  That diversity of style makes these wines versatile pairing partners with a broad range of foods.

Sparkling Wines

Champagne and other sparkling wines like Cava, and Prosecco have an incredible affinity for a wide range of foods.  Aside from the aforementioned high acidity and lower alcohol, there’s the bubbly effervescence!  I always have a chilled bottle of bubbly on hand!  Unfortunately, most folks only drink bubbly when it’s a special occasion or as a cocktail without food.  But now you know better. Right?!

Sparkling wines work especially well:

  • To accompany raw fish (sushi, sashimi, oysters, etc.),
  • Tart foods: citrus, vinegars, pomegranate, dill, capers, and tomatoes
  • As a counterpoint for foods that are salty, moderately spicy, rich and creamy, or deep-fried. (For example, a classic pairing is buttered popcorn with sparkling wine)
  • With many Latin dishes (empanadas ceviche and mole), Asian cuisines (Tempura, gyoza, Chinese deep-fried dishes, fish cakes, Indian Samosas, etc.), Middle Eastern dishes (hummus, baba ghanoush)
  • To accompany dishes that are challenging to pair with other wines like egg dishes and soups.
  • To pair with dishes that are inherently toasty like canapes or puff-pastry dishes.


Riesling is widely regarded as the most food friendly white wine.  It’s among the most versatile wines because it’s made in a wide range of sweetness, from bone-dry to very sweet dessert style wines.

Riesling goes well:

  • Almost any fatty poultry like goose, duck and other gamy birds.
  • Rich, salty meats such as ham, sausages, and charcuterie. LIkewise for mildly salty cheeses such as Gorgonzola.
  • Sweet shellfish such as crab, lobster, and prawns.
  • Dishes seasoned with exotic spices, such as curries, cardamom, clove, mace, star anise, etc.
  • Quiche and other egg-based dishes.

Sauvignon Blanc

You know how a squeeze of lemon seems to enhance almost anything?  I think of Sauvignon Blanc as a vinous equivalent.  It can be a polarizing wine. It’s a bit like cilantro – people tend to either love it or hate it.  But since this a wine that is made in a diverse range of style, I believe there is something for virtually everyone.  It’s a matter of finding the style that suites you!

Sauvignon Blanc goes well:

  • With dishes emphasizing fresh herbs, or dressed with a  vinaigrette dressing.
  • With dishes prepared with a variety of cooking methods, from low-impact such as steamy to high-impact such as smoking, and grilling.
  • With most vegetarian soups.
  • As a counterbalance to rich dishes made with light-cream or butter-based sauces.
  • With acidic or sharp ingredients such as citrus, dairy (yogurt, sour cream,etc) dill, capers, olives, and tomatoes.
  • With spicy hot dishes – the acidity and generally lower alcohol level refreshes the palate.
  • With a wide variety of cheeses. Goat cheese is the classic pairing, but try it with Brie, Gruyere, Neufchatel, or sharp cheddar.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is known as the Chef’s wine  because its affinity for such a broad range of foods. It’s also the wine most often described in sensual terms! Depending on the vintner’s choices, it can be delicate and light-bodied, or bold and full-bodied!

Pinot Noir pairs well with:

  • Damn near everything (which is why it’s often the first choice for a food-a-palooza like Thanksgiving) because it’s so flexible.
  • Dishes that complement its inherently spicy flavors such as dishes spiced with coriander, cumin, cinnamon, or ginger.
  • With foods that are smoked, lightly charred, or grilled, especially if you’re serving one with a more oak-driven style.
  • Many fish – especially Salmon, tuna or swordfish.
  • With veggies (especially mushrooms) and dishes with earthier flavors such as cooked beans, greens, lentils, or dishes seasoned with Dijon mustard.
  • A multitude of Asian cuisines – Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean foods.  That’s because these cuisines often have sweet-salt flavor combinations with which Pinot Noir plays well.


Sangiovese is produced  in diverse range of styles.  In Italy, where the wines are named after geographical regions rather than the grape varietal, there is, of course, Chianti, but there’s also Brunello, Montepulciano, and “Super Tuscan” variations of Sangiovese.

Sangiovese goes well:

  • With dishes with tomato-based sauces.
  • Dishes  that are slow braised, grilled, or lightly smoked.
  • With dishes featuring fresh herbs such as basil, thyme or sage.
  • Richer, full-bodied soups such a bean soup, or minestrone.
There you have it, my short-list of the 5 most food friendly wines (for a more comprehensive list click here)!  Equipped with these five wines, and spirit of exploration to find what works for your palate, pairing food and wine will go from daunting to delightful!  I’ve added a new feature this week.  Click on the hyperlinked name of the wine to find where you can buy. Also, since I’m limiting my wine recommendations to five, no dessert pairing this week:-(

Here is this week’s great #SundaySupper menu:

Breakfast, Starters, Butters and Jams:

Pair these dishes with Korbel Natural, a “California Champagne” made of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay.  It’s a crisp, dry sparkler with cherry, raspberry and apple character.

Main Dishes:

Pair these main dishes with the Korbel Natural mentioned above:

Pair these dishes with Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for the 2011 Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Te Muna Road Vineyard. It’s from New Zealand and it’s full of citrus, gooseberry and tropical fruit character:

Pair these dishes with a Riesling.  One of my favorites is the 2010 Trimbach Riesling.  It’s dry wine from the Alsace region with delicate aromas that belie its rich, fruity tropical fruit, peach and citrus flavors:
Pair these dishes with Pinot Noir.  Look for the 2009 Dashwood Marlborough Pinot Noir from New Zealand.  This one has a fruity cherry, raspberry, herb, and spice character. 
Pair these dishes with a Sangiovese. Look for the 2009 Ninety+ Cellars Reserve Lot 57 Rosso Toscana.  It’s a blend of mostly Sangiovese (80%) with the balance split between Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  Therefore it’s a what’s referred to as a “Super Tuscan”.  It’s loaded with blackberry, black cherry, and spice character.


Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm(Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite 5 Ingredient Recipes! All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat!

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75 Comments Add yours

  1. I am looking forward to trying the 2011 Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc with my Goat Cheese Alfredo… Thanks so much for the suggestion!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Isabel! I’ve got to try your Goat Cheese Alfredo! Love goat cheese, and it sounds delicious!

  2. The info on those five types of wine is amazing to have! Wonderful post Martin. Have a great sunday!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Paula…it was a challenge to narrow down to just five!

  3. Great advice!
    Its a good idea to keep a stash of these 5 wine varieties on hand so you are ready for any meal. I’m going to try to find the Dashwood Pinot Noir, haven’t had that yet. Cheers!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Eileen! Let me know what you think? Cheers!

  4. You mean I can have my Nutella Ice Cream with wine? Sign me up!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      LOL..yeah…you can have just about anything with wine, though honestly most folks don’t think about pairing wine and dessert. I like it, but I’ m in the minority

  5. diabeticfoodie says:

    I love how you adapted today’s theme for your blog. Great info!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Shelby….I down with my BFFs!

  6. juanitascocina says:

    I cracked open a wonderful bottle of savignon blanc on Friday night to accompany a pasta dish. I actually found myself consulting some of your tips! I’m learning!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Jen! Glad you find it informative! Cheers!

  7. Have I told you how much I adore your posts. I learn so much each week from you – I don’t know much about Wine, but I sure enjoy learning. Thank you so much for your wine pairings and then posts like these where I actually learn to do it myself! :)

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Wow. Thanks so much for the kind words Nicole! It’s a two way street, I’m learning much from reading the #SS recipes!

  8. Carla says:

    I love this post! It’s very rare that I finish a bottle of wine the same day it is opened, so having one of these versatile ones allows me to drink the same wine several days in a row (with the appropriate planned meals of course). Saving!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Carla! I’m glad you found the post helpful!

  9. “Pinot Noir pairs well with….damn near everything.” Agreed! A favorite of mine.

    Love this post! Well done!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Amy! You’re a smart lady;-)

  10. Hezzi-D says:

    You named two of my favorites and that’s because I only drink whites! Great post.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Heather! Cheers!

  11. Germanpdx says:

    Super Tuscan, and Sauvignon Blanc !!! Count me in :)

    What a fantastic post!

  12. I have to visit your blog more often. I could some major schooling for wine. Great info!

  13. Wow I always love reading yours or Eileen’s post every week. They are so helpful for me. I usually find a wine that I enjoy and stick to it, but I love coming here to find suggestions of other ones to try. I’m also one of those people who is terrified by all the choices at the stores so I love when you tell me the year and brand to purchase.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Lane! The “Wall of Wine” can be intimidating. I hope you’ll get a chance to try some of our recommendations. I also, hope your confidence, in terms of wine, will continue to grow!

  14. As usual, great pairings! I was curious what you’d come up with for some of these simple dishes, and you nailed it…. lovely!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks so much Melanie!

  15. I think Pinot Noir is the little black dress of wines. It goes with everything. I cant wait to try all five wines.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      I like the “Little Black Dress” analogy! I hope you’ll get a chance to try some of the wines!

  16. Pinot Noir is one of my favorite kinds of wine – so good to see it is good with so many things!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Hi Erin,
      It’s hard to go wrong with Pinot Noir, though, it doesn’t play well with really spicy foods. Otherwise, it’s easily the best starting point for selecting a red wine to go with a meal!

  17. What a helpful list of suggestions for food and wine pairings. I was really happy to see your plug for Pinot Noirs. I think they are so food friendly and flexible. And having just returned from Burgundy –I can’t think of anything better to have over the holidays either!

  18. Excellent review of varietals; thank you!

  19. Excellent recommendations Martin! And I totally agree that pinot noir goes with just about everything.

  20. Your wine tips are always my favorite. Pinot Noir is my favorite red wine because it goes w/ everything!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Megan. I love Pinot Noir!

  21. Laura Hunter says:

    I feel like each time I read your posts I discover a new wine I want to try. I have never had a Sangiovese wine but since I am making a homemade tomato sauce for tonight’s dinner I think I need to pop over to the store and get a bottle.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Laura! I hope you’ll get a chance to try some of the recommended wines, but there are so many good wines on the market don’t hesitate to try another comparable bottle of wine!

  22. Soni says:

    This was very informative!We’re big fans of Reisling and always have it on hand :) Have tried all the others except Sangiovese!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Soni! Riesling is a great wine to have on hand!

  23. Faye Leong says:

    Thank you so much for all the useful tips, Martin! Great post!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks for the kind words Faye!

  24. hipfoodiemom says:

    Love this! so informative! I know generally what kind of wine goes with what. . but this is awesome! thank you for sharing!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m glad you found it helpful. And thanks for stopping by!

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