Wine Pairings Recommendations for Skinny #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme is all about lighter healthier food to help you maintain a healthy, wholesome diet. #SundaySupper.  One of the things I appreciate most about the talented #SundaySupper food bloggers is their creativity.  So I know you’ll find not only slimmed down versions of some of your favorite dishes, you’ll also be introduced to some new, exciting, and undoubtedly diverse, healthy fare.

The #SundaySupper mission is to Bring Back Sunday Supper around the family table in every home. It starts off as one day a week and soon becomes a way of life.

Speaking of healthy…it’s generally accepted that moderate consumption of alcohol, including wine does more good than harm. With that in mind, here are some things to understand about the calories in wine:

  • Wine is made of mostly water, alcohol, carbohydrates.  The carbs result from the residual sugar left in wine after fermentation.
  • A glass of wine can range between 110 – 300 calories depending on the wine. The range has to do with alcohol content, inherent sweetness of the wine and serving size.
  • Generally speaking, the lower the alcohol content, the lower the calories.  That’s because alcohol has 7 calories per grams of alcohol compared to 4 calories per gram for sugar (in the form of residual sugar in wine). If you’re counting calories, consider wines below 15% alcohol by volume.
  • Use 25 calories per ounce as a caloric guideline for wine. If you’re really counting calories, and want to know the specific amount of calories in a particular wine varietal (e.g. Syrah v. Merlot v Chardonnay), you can search the USDA National Nutrient Database for the Specific Calories by Wine Varietal (I found it interesting the list includes dessert, red and white wine, but doesn’t seem to include sparkling wines).  
  • As with food,  portion control is important with wine.  A standard serving of wine is considered to be 5 ounces, but if you’re counting calories a 3 or 4 ounce pour may be more appropriate.
  • Generally speaking wines white wines and Rosé has fewer calories that red wine .  The white wines that are lowest in calories are sparkling wines, German Riesling (Spätlese and Kabinett), Pinot Grigio, Albariño,  and Vino Verde.
  • Wines that tend to be highest in calories are dessert wines like Port, Sauterne, Ice wine, and late harvest wines.  On the other hand, the standard serving size for dessert wines is about 2 ounces rather than the 5 ounces for table wines.

But rather than focusing on how many calories are in one type of wine versus another, pair food with the wines you enjoy most. If you need to watch your calories, then consider a smaller pour.

Check out this week’s sensational Skinny #SundaySupper recipes. My wine pairing recommendations are italicized. Click on the name of the wine to find out where to purchase.

Calories in a glass of wine

Image courtesy of

Pair these starters, main and side dishes with sparkling wine.  I like the Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Brut.  It made my Top 20 Sparkling Wines Under $20 list for 2012.  It’s a blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay & Cabernet Franc with a stone-fruit, raspberry, and mineral character.  

Pair these starters, main and side dishes with Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc is a top of mind wine for pairing with lightened up fare for me.  That’s because lighter healthier foods are often prepared with fresh herbs, and/or well-spiced to make more flavorful.  Not only is Sauvignon Blanc a great match for food prepare that way, it works well with sharper acidic ingredients (yogurt for example which is often subbed for mayo), vegetables, salads, and seafood which are staples of lighter fare.  Look for the 2012 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s off-dry with a zesty citrus, tropical fruit, melon, with a bit of herbaceousness character.

Riesling is another top of mind natural wine for pairing with lightened up fare. Not only is it among the most versatile of wines.  It also tends be be lower in calories because of it’s lower alcohol content (especially German Riesling).  Pair these starters, main  and side dishes with the 2011 Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Drachenstein “Dragonstone” Riesling QbA.  It shows a zesty lime, peach, pink grapefruit, apple, spice and mineral character. 

Pair these starters, main  and side dishes with Beaujolais, a wine from the eponymous region made from the Gamay grape.  While I’m not a big fan of the Beaujolais Nouveau release annually in November, I am a fan of Cru Beaujolais.  They tend to be light-bodied, food friendly red wines with soft tannins.  Look for the  2010 Potel-Aviron Côte de Brouilly “Vieilles Vignes” Cru Beaujolais.  It has a black raspberry, floral, and asian spice character.  Can’t find a Beaujolais?  Then go with your favorite Pinot Noir – a similar style of wine. 

Pair these starters, main  and side dishes with a red Rhône blend. I recommend the newly released vintage of one of my favorites, the 2011 Tablas Creek Vineyards Patelin de Tablas.  It’s a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Counoise. The blend of grape varieties produces a vinous synergy resulting in a fresh juicy red fruits, spice, and mineral character.

Pair these desserts & snacks with a Moscato d’Asti.  Look for the 2011 Saracco Moscato d’Asti. It shows a sweet, fragrant, delicate, floral, tropical fruit, and a hint of honey character.  It’s “frizzante”, which means it’s not as effervescent as most sparkling wines. 

Pair these desserts & snacks with a late harvest Gewürztraminer.  One of my favorites is the 2011 Castello di Amorosa Late Harvest Gewürztraminer. It has intriguing honey, apricot, honeysuckle, and spice aromas and flavors, and is succulent and rich on the palate.  It’s just flat-out delicious! It’s a bit pricey, but remember portion sizes are smaller and dessert wines will last for weeks rather than day.  Beside it’s tasty enough to be dessert on its own!

Pair these desserts & snacks with Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat a fortified dessert wine from Australia.  One sip and it’ll be Muscat love with its decadently rich toffee, caramel, and spiced orange peel character.

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. This week we will be sharing out special skinnified recipes! Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the#SundaySupper hash tag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Join us Around the Family Table this Sunday at 7pm Eastern Time and share your favorite healthy recipes with us!


Wine Pairings for Home for the Holidays #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme “Home for the Holidays”, and is all about holiday traditions. Americans are such a diverse people.  As such, we have diverse holiday traditions that reflect our multitude of heritages. I prefer to focus on the common threads that run through the our diverse national fabric.  Among those common threads are family and tradition, and that’s  #SundaySupper movement is all about.

Our family tradition is to gather on Christmas Eve for our holiday meal and opening gifts (it used to be one gift when I was a kid, and when my kids were small – since we all adults now, and getting together can be like herding cats, we just open all the gifts on Christmas Eve). We’ve enjoyed Prime Rib, the last couple of years, but don’t really have a long-standing standard holiday meal. I guess, it’s more about getting together than what we eat.

Wine Lights Candles

Image courtesy of

For this week’s “Home for the Holidays” theme, as best as I can, my wine pairing recommendations will reflect our diversity.  Aside from wanting to make my wine pairing recommendations congruent with this week’s theme, my reason for doing so also reflects some pragmatic food and wine pairing advice…that is pair the foods of a place with the wines of that place (Spanish wines with Spanish food, German wine with German food, etc).The flavors of food and wines that have “grown up” together over centuries (at least primarily in the case of the European “Old World” countries) are almost always a natural match. So where I could readily discern a heritage of the dish, my wine pairing recommendation(s) will be for a wine from that country. Of course, there are exceptions, but keeping this guideline in mind is a great place to start.

Here is this week’s stellar line-up of dishes.  My wine pairing recommendations are italicized.


Pair these breakfast dishes (except the coffee cake) with sparkling wine. Nothing like adding some sparkle to your morning to start the day!.  Look for Scharffenberger Brut Excellence, a California sparkling wine from Mendocino County.  It’s a blend of Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir with a lovely red fruit, apple, citrus and a touch of honey character.  

Pair the coffee cake with the Broadbent 10 year Malmsey Madeira. One of the things I appreciate about Madeira is that it’s relatively indestructible.  Once opened, it will keep for at least 6 months.  It’s a great dessert wine to keep on hand because it has a backbone of natural acidity.  It a great match for fruitcake, or rich desserts made with cream or chocolate. Or it can be the dessert in and of itself (If you have a sweet tooth, Madeira can satisfy it, and it has few calories too most other dessert choices!;-) 

Appetizers & Snacks

Pair these dishes with the Scharffenberger Brut Excellence

Main Dishes and Sides

Pair this dishes with a white Rhone blend. What’s great about blends is that the combination of grape varietals creates vinous synergy – a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. Look for the 2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc. It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. It’s a crisp and aromatic wine with honeysuckle and stone fruit aromas that follow onto the palate. It also has very good acidity and an appealing minerality that make it versatile food partner.

Pair the following dishes with the 2011 Burgáns Albariño Rias Baixas a crisp, fresh food-friendly white wine from Spain with a crisp apple, apricot and peach character. 

Pair these dishes with Gruner Vetliner (Groo-ner Velt-Leen-er), the primary white grape variety of Austria.  It is typically medium-bodied, high-acid mineral driven wine that is very food friendly.  Look for the 2011 Laurenz V. Singing Gruner Veltliner. 

Pair these dishes with Sangiovese (that is if you prefer wine over the delightful Martinis;-). I recommend the 2010 La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano. It’s a “Super-Tuscan blend of 85% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah, 5% Alicante, 2% Colorino and 3% Ciliegiolo.  It shows a wonderful mixed berry, and spice character with a bit of smoky tobacco, and licorice aromas. 

Pair this dish with the Scharffenberger Brut Excellence sparkling wine:

Pair these dishes with Torrontes, a white Argentine wine grape variety that produces delightful, spicy, perfumed wines.  Look for the 2011 Bodega Colome Torrontes. It’s off-dry with an aromatic fresh citrus, kiwi, and white flower character. 

Pair these dishes with a Riesling.  One of my favorites is the 2011 Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Drachenstein “Dragonstone” Riesling. It’s an off-dry Riesling with an apple, pear, citrus, and mineral character with great acidity. 

Pair this dish with the 2009 Boas Vinhas Tinto Dao, a red wine from Portugal that is a blend of the indigenous Portuguese grapes Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz with a  plum, dried berry, blackberry and spice character that is layered with supple tannins and good acidity.

Pair this dish with a Moscato d’Asti Moscato d’Asti from Italy.  Look for the 2011 Saracco Moscato d’Asti. It shows a sweet, fragrant, delicate, floral, tropical fruit, and a hint of honey character.  It’s “frizzante”, which means it’s not as effervescent as most sparkling wines. It’s also a wonderful example of why I love sparkling wines, they can work with all the courses of a meal from appetizers through dessert. 


Pair these desserts with a Sauternes,  a sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section of Bordeaux. They are made from  SémillonSauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes affected by noble rot.  Look for the 2005 Guiraud Sauternes.  It has a full-bodied, honeyed, lemon tart, baked apple, baking spice, and  vanilla cream character

Pair these desserts with an Oloroso Sherry, a denser richer style of Sherry.  Look for the Lustau East Indian Solera. It’s a provocative sweet creamy Sherry with a toffee, fig, caramel, raisin, and baking spice  (cinnamon and clove) character. 

Pair these Italian desserts with the 2011 Saracco Moscato d’Asti.

Pair this dish with a late harvest Riesling.  Look for the  2011 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese. It’s a has an elegant, floral, spicy, exotic, and tropical fruit character. 

Pair this dish with an a German Red wine made from the Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) grape variety. Look for the 2009 Friedrich Becker Estate Pinot Noir.  It’s a spicy treat with a strawberry, cherry, and earthy character that will stand up to having the Pfeffernusse dipped in it, or used as a based for gluhwein, a spiced red wine drink!


What does it mean for you to be Home for the Holidays?  Please join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper on December 23rd.  In the evening we will meet at 7pm EST for our #SundaySupper to talk about our Holiday Traditions.  We are so excited to have you join us.  All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

Please feel free to share with us and our followers your favorite Holiday recipe on our #SundaySupper Pinterest Board.  We are excited to have you!

Jerk Turkey Burgers With Mango Slaw – #SundaySupper with @SchlossiWines

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a glass of wine with dinner!  It’s a nightly ritual for my wife and I, who are both ardent wine lovers. So much so that we typically decide which wine we’re in the mood for, THEN we decide what to eat (I suspect most folks do it the other way around!) Regardless of which choice you make first food and wine together are one of life’s great pleasures.  This quotes says it all for me…

“If  food is the body of good living, wine is its soul.” — Clifton Fadiman

Those of you familiar with my ENOFYLZ (that’s oenophiles spelled phonetically in case you’re wondering) blog know it’s a Wine blog.  This week, it’s a Wine and Food blog since I’ve decided to take the leap and prepare a dish and do offer wine pairing recommendations. As a self-described “Wino with latent foodie tendencies”, it seems natural to do the food and wine post!

When I saw the lineup of diverse wine samples provided by the Schlossadler Family of Wines, this week’s Cooking with Wine #SundaySupper, it didn’t take long to decide to make something spicy.  That’s because a.) I love spicy food, and b.) One of the wine and food pairing tenets I’ve had the most success with is “spicy loves sweet”, i.e pair spicy foods with wines that have some sweetness.

I decided on Jerk Turkey Burgers with Mango Coleslaw because it’s a quintessential summer meal and well…it looked easy!   I found the recipe on the Food Network.

For the uninitiated, “Jerk” is a style of cooking native to Jamaica whereby meat (or for that matter, vegetables or tofu) is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. I’m sure there are many versions, but the two primary ingredients are allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers.   Other ingredients typically include cinnamon, cloves, garlic, scallions, thyme and salt.

Jerk Turkey Burger with oven-fried sweet potatoes and sliced mango

Here’s the recipe:


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 small green apple, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, plus more for brushing
  • 1/4 cup mango chutney, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • Canola oil, for the grill
  • 4 hamburger buns or challah rolls, split ( I used whole wheat)

Combine the first 6 ingredients to make the turkey burger patties. Whisk the mayonnaise and chutney in a large bowl. Add the cabbage, carrot and the remaining 1/4 cup scallions, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Grill the turkey patties until browned and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Brush the cut sides of the buns with mayonnaise and sprinkle with jerk seasoning; toast on the grill, about 30 seconds. Serve the burgers and slaw on the buns.

What’s a burger without fries?  I decided to add some oven-fried potatoes, and in a epiphanic burst of culinary inspiration (Um…not sure where it came from – though I suspect it’s from insanely creative, new-found foodie friends who set the bar high;-) I decided to garnish with sliced mango.

I’m pleased to report the burgers were a smash hit!  The spicy kick of the jerk seasoning in the burgers was cooled a bit by the mango slaw.  It was a wonderful match with the 2006  H.O. Becker, Kerner Auslese because of its fruity sweetness, which further offset the spicy kick of the burger.  It’s pretty healthy too, especially if you sub something for the mayo!

On the other gustatory delights offered this week by the #SundaySupper bloggers!  Additionally, my tasting notes for each wine and my wine pairing recommendations follow:

2010  Kotuku Winery, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

Pale golden-yellow color with aromatic passionfruit, citrus, mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s The medium-bodied, with zesty acidity, and vibrant citrus, tropical fruits, and subtle mineral flavors. Medium-long finish.  Versatile partner with food.

Pair with these delectable dishes…

2010  Ernst Holler, Blaufrankisch, Burgenland

If you’re not familiar with Blaufränkisch (blouw-FRAHN-keesh), here’s a quick 411 – It’s a dark-skinned grape used to make red wine

Ruby color with damp earth, mixed berry, dark cherry, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-medium bodied with very good acidity, supple tannins, and cherry, raspberry, spice, and a hint of cola flavors. Brings to mind Cru Beaujolais! Medium finish. Very food friendly wine.

Pair with these terrific entrees…

2006  H.O. Becker, Kerner Auslese, Rheinhessen

If you not familiar with the Kerner grape (I know I wasn’t), here’s a quick 411 – It’s an aromatic white grape variety that is the offspring of a cross between Trollinger, a red grape variety, and Riesling a noble white grape variety.  It’s named after poet and physician from Justinus Kerner.

Pale golden-yellow color with aromatic lychee, stone-fruit ,  and hints of Muscat and white flower aromas.  On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fruity  and sweet with vivid white peach, apricot, sweet mineral flavors underscored by racy acidity.  Medium-long finish. I initially thought it was a Rosé because it looked pink, but it turned out be bottled in pink glass.  Perhaps a tribute to its parentage?

Pair with these delightful dishes…

Join us at 7pm ET for our #SundaySupper Chat with @schlossiwines.   Follow along on twitter by using hashtag #Sundaysupper or using Tweetchat.  We love to feature your recipes on our #sundaysupper pinterest board and share them with all our followers.
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Relishing Food and Wine – Thanks to Julia Child! #CookForJulia #SundaySupper

I enjoy watching the Food Network.  It’s fun to see the manifestations of creativity and passion from the various TV personalities.  And of course when I think of cooking and TV personalities; top of mind for me is Julia Child.  Whenever I’ve seen her show, what alway come through is her passion for the sensual pleasures of food and wine.  Food and wine are a match made in heaven  in my book.

When I think about food and wine, I think of “foodies”, and “winos”.  How can you tell the difference between the two?  Simple, if one thinks of what food will be served then thinks about what wine will be a match, they’re a foodie.  And if one think about what wine to serve, then considers what food will pair well with it, they’re a wino!  I’m oversimplifying it a bit, but I mostly think that’s the case.  Regardless if you’re a “foodie”, or a “wino”, there are similarities.  I love the following quote from Julia Child…

Julia Child with various bottles of wine including Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, etc. Image courtesy of

“Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.” 
― Julia ChildMastering the Art of French Cooking
As Julia Child loved French food, she also loved  French wine,  so naturally I’ll recommend some.  However, French wines can be a challenge to find, and may be a bit intimidating for the uninitiated, so I’ll also includes comparable domestic wines were appropriate. My recommended wine pairing for these great Julia Child recipes follows:

Pair the following wonderful breakfast dishes with Champagne.  One of the things I love about sparkling wine is that it’s really the only wine that good for every meal!  Look for NV Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut.  If you must , add a splash of orange juice to make a mimosa (you know who you are;-) 

Pair the following lunch, sides, and dinner recipes with moderately oaked, full-bodied moderately Chardonnay. From France go with a White Burgundy from the commune of Meursault.  Look for the 2010 Domaine Bernard Millot Bourgogne Blanc.  On the domestic front, try the La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.  

Pair the following entrées with a dry Riesling from Alsace.  Look for the 2007 Schlumberger Saering Riesling Grand Cru. On the domestic front, look for the 2010 Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars Dry Riesling.

Pair the following entrée and side dishes with a White Bordeaux, which is typically a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, and Sémillion. Look for 2010 l’Avocat Blanc, Graves, or from California try the 2009 Clos du Val Ariadne, which is also a Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillion blend. 

Pair the following entrees with a sparkling Rosé.  From France look for Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Rosé “Perle d’Aurore”, a nice blend of Pinot Noir, and Gamay from Burgundy.  From California look for Mumm Brut Rosé

Pair these entrées and side dishes with a medium-full bodied Rosé.  From France, look for the 2011 Château d’Aqueria Tavel, a Grenache-based blend from the southern Rhône Valley, or try a dry Rosé from Spain like the 2011 Muga Rosado.

Chianti, a Sangiovese based wine will be a good match for these side dishes.  Look for the 2008 Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Chianti Rùfina Castello di Nipozzano Riserva.

A Syrah, or Syrah dominant blend will be a great pairing for these hearty entrees.  Look for the 2009 E. Guigal Gigondas from the Rhône Valley, or try the 2009 Andrew Murray Vineyards Tous Les Jours Syrah from California. 

I recommend a Pinot Noir for these dishes. Look for the 2009 Bethel Heights “Estate” Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir from Oregon.

Now for the desserts!

Pair these desserts with a Sauternes,  a sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section of Bordeaux. They are made from  SémillonSauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes affected by noble rot.  They typically have apricot, honey and peach aromas,  with good acidity to keep the sweetness from being cloying.  Look for the 2009 Roûmieu-Lacoste, Sauternes.

Pair these dessert with a Port.  I recommend the Graham’s “Six Grapes” Port.

Bon Appétit!


Beat The Heat #SundaySupper – Hot Wine Pairings for “Cool” Food

It may be the hottest summer on record in the U.S.  When it’s THAT hot, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven or the stove.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to eat more salads or anything I don’t have to cook inside.  This week’s #SundaySupper is all about salads, refreshing drinks, desserts and foods that don’t require baking.  I’m pleased to offer wine recommendations for this great lineup of foods that beat the heat!

Image courtesy of

Check out this week’s lineup of “cool” recipes!  My recommended wine pairings are italicized.

#BeatTheHeat Appetizers:

Rosé is my favorite summertime quaff – it offers the soul of a red wine because it’s predominately made with red wine grapes, but with the cool refreshment of a white wine.  Try the following appetizers with the 2011 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé from South Africa. It’s a fabulous wine, and a great deal at less than $10 too!

Try these delightful appetizers with Prosecco, which tend to be fruitier than other sparkling wines produced using the traditional method. That makes them the ideal foil for slightly spicy foods and smoked fish.  Look for La Marca Prosecco.  It has apple, peach and honeysuckle aromas followed by fresh, fruity apple, citrus flavors.

Pair the following appetizer with a Riesling, arguably the most food friendly white wine.  Look for the 2010 Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling – it’s distinctly off-dry with tropical fruit and citrus aromas, followed by  stone fruit and mild orange flavors rounded out with a crisp refreshing acidity.

The grilled and the cheesy goodness of a baked potato skins will work best with a red.  Look for the 2010 Ménage à Trois, a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  It’s an easy drinking red that can take a chill too because it’s fruity, lower in tannins with good acidity!

#BeatTheHeat Salads, Soups, & Sides:

Try the following dishes with a Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for the 2011 Veramonte Ritual Sauvignon Blanc from Chile – it’s an elegant Sauvignon Blanc that sees a bit of oak, with pineapple, stone fruit, and citrus aromas and flavors.

Riesling will be a nice match for the following dishes.  Go with the 2010 Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling mentioned above.

Pair  the following soup with a Rosé, or a sparkling Rose either the Mulderbosch, or the Gruet respectively mentioned above.

#BeatTheHeat Main Dishes:

Pair the following main dishes with a Sparkling Rosé.  They are among the most versatile food wines.  I recommend Gruet Rose.  It’s shows lots of red fruit, and the chilled effervescence will have you ready for the next bite of your entrée!

Pair the following main dishes with a crisp refreshing white blend, in this case the 2010 d’Arenberg Stump Jump White – a blend of 28% Riesling, 27% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne from McLaren Vale, Australia.  It’s very food friendly with juicy citrus and tropical fruit aromas balanced nicely with good acidity.

#BeatTheHeat Desserts:

I differentiated between the frozen and other desserts because frozen desserts are a treat unto themselves, especially when it’s so hot!  

For these non-frozen desserts my wine recommendations are as follows:
  • Elegant Fruit Jellies ~ Happy Baking Days  – La Marca Prosecco will be a fruity refreshing match for this dessert
  • Raspberry Mousse ~ Basic and Delicious – Pair with Banfi Rosa Regale, a lovely Italian sparkler that offer rose and berry aromas, along with strawberry and raspberry flavors.

#BeatTheHeat Drinks & Cocktails:

Be sure you join the conversation on Twitter throughout the day on Sunday, and at 3:00 p.m. EST for the weekly #SundaySupper Twitter chat!  All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat!  Or check out the #SundaySupper Pinterest board.

#SundaySupper – Celebrating Independence Day with Family, Friends, Food and Wine!

I don’t necessarily think of myself as being very patriotic, but each year around this time we sing “America The Beautiful” at my church, and it chokes me up each time! I truly appreciate this great nation of ours, and feel blessed to be an American.  And that’s what the Fourth of July is about for me.  Okay – well that,  and it’s a great reason to gather with family, and friends share great food and wine!

My food blogging friends have outdone themselves with this week’s #SundaySupper theme – Celebrating Fourth of July with Family and Friends.  It’s big fun, and an honor for a self-described “Wino with latent foodie tendencies” such as myself, to offer some wonderful wines recommendations to match these great recipes!

Here’s a list of this week’s recipes and my recommended wines!

Pair these main course dishes with Zinfandel, an All-American wine if there ever was one!  I recommend the 2009 Ridge Vineyard “Three Valleys” Sonoma Zinfandel Blend.  It’s mostly Zinfandel with some Carignane, Petite Sirah, and Syrah invited to the party.  It’s well-balanced with great fruit, acidity, and a bit of spice!

Pair these main course dishes with a Pinot Noir.  I recommend the 2009 MacMurray Ranch Central Coast Pinot Noir.  This one shows plenty of classic Pinot Noir red fruit flavors and acidity.  And Pinot Noir can take a chill.  Throw it in the ice bucket for 10-15 minutes and you’ll have a delightfully chilled food partner!

What’s the Fourth of July without some sparkle?!  A sparkling Rosé is a great wine for your Independence Day culinary festivities.  It’ll do double duty with these salads/sides and main dishes. Try the Barefoot Bubbly Rosé Cuvée.

Riesling is the white wine version of a “Chef’s wine” because it’s so food friendly.  The 2010 Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling will be a great match for these ethnic dishes!

Try these salads and sides with a Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s one of the few wines that’ll be a good match for asparagus.  Sauvignon Blanc (a.k.a. Fumé Blanc – it’s the same wine) is a very versatile wine, and has a bold and forthright personality.  Look for the 2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Sonoma County Fumé Blanc. 

For these salads and sides, Chardonnay, America’s favorite white wine, will be great match.  Look for the 2010 Napa Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay.
Here’s another bubbly that’ll do double duty.  Try an Extra-Dry Sparkling wine with these salads/side and desserts.  The Chandon Extra Dry Riche has got a bit of sweetness that partners well with spicy fare as well as fruity desserts.
As for the last of the salads and sides?  This one needs no wine pairing because it’s made with one of my favorite Fourth of July beverages – Sangria! 
These desserts will be a pair nicely with a late harvest Riesling.  Late harvest wines, as their description implies are wines produced from grapes that are picked late in the season  The extra “hang-time” means the grapes have a higher sugar content, and are therefore sweeter.  I recommend the 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Late Harvest White Riesling.  

For these desserts, I recommend a Port.  Look for Graham’s “Six Grapes” Port.

I hereby raise a virtual glass, and I say to you – “Here’s to making memories!”  – because that’s what family, friends, great food and wine are all about! – Cheers!

Mom 100 Cookbook #SundaySupper Food and Wine Pairings

This week, the #SundaySupper movement is teaming up with Katie Workman,  Author of the newly published The Mom 100 Cookbook. The cookbook is all about:

“...delicious, no-fuss, easily adaptable recipes, plus tips, attitude and wisdom for surviving and staying happy in the kitchen while proudly keeping it homemade. Because homemade not only tastes best, it is best for you.”

Image courtesy of

That’s a winner in my book!  This week’s theme is all about getting together with friends and sharing “portable” dishes (a.k.a. dishes one might bring to a potluck).

Here’s the menu for today.  My recommended wine pairings are italicized.

Soups and Salads:

Pair theses with a Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine.  Blanc de Noir is style of Sparkling that is made from black grapes, commonly Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  Because it’s made from black grapes, it tends to be well suited for more full-bodied foods.  I recommend Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, which is made with 90% Pinot Noir, and 10% Chardonnay. The Chardonnay give it a nice citrus note.

Main Dish Recipes:

Try these dishes with a lively fruity red wines. Look for the 2010 Evodia Grenache from Spain.  It’s under $10 bottle and redolent of spicy ripe red fruits.  Another option is a Beaujolais-Villages.  It’s a wine from France made from the Gamay grape.  It’s a big step up from Beaujolais Nouveau both qualitatively and as match for food, without costing that much more.  Look for the 2009 Joseph Drouhin, Beaujolais-Villages, it’s around $15.  If those two are a challenge to find, go with a Pinot Noir.  Look for the 2008 Buena Vista Pinot Noir, it’s about $10 at Trader Joe’s.

If you prefer white wine, try these dishes with a Chardonnay.  I recommend 2010Napa Cellar Napa Valley Chardonnay

I recommend Sauvignon Blanc with these dishes.  Look for Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc.

As a “bonus” this week, I’m recommending a Sparkling wine to pair not only with the first course, but with the main dishes.   Sparklers are among the most versatile food wines.  Don’t relegate them to special occasions and aperitifs.  And some bubbly will definitely add some pizzaz to your potluck! My recommended Sparkling wine is Mumm Napa Brut Rosé.  If there’s one wine that’ll be a good match  for all of the above, it’s a Sparkling Rosé! 


For a delicious change of pace,  pair these with a Banyuls from France. It’s a fortified wine typically made from the Grenache grape.  It may a challenge to find, but is definitely worth seeking out.  Look for the Cornet et Cie Banyuls Rimage.  It can be found at BevMo.  If you can’t find a Banyul, go with the tried, tested and found true choice Port, I recommend Graham Porto 10-year Tawny. 

Try these with a sweet muscat.  Look for it the 2010 Ceretto Moscato d’Asti from Italy

…and this one would be sublime with Banfi Brachetto d Acqui Rosa Regale, which is a red sparkling wine from Italy, made from the Brachetto grape.


To learn more about Sunday Supper, please visit Family Foodie!

#SundaySupper Father’s Day

Today’s #SundaySupper is all about special recipes that remind you of Dad.  As a Dad, I can tell you that Dad wants to be appreciated, and cooking something special for him is a great way to do that.

Here’s the menu for today.  My suggested wine pairings are italicized.

Father’s Day Brunch:

There’s a reason that sparkling wines go so well with brunch, the effervescence adds a celebratory feel to the meal, and the high acidity of sparkling wines makes them an ideal companion for the melange of foods that might be served.  I recommend Mumm Napa Brut Prestige for something on the dry side, and La Marca Prosecco if Dad like his bubbly a bit sweeter.  Both are available for less than $20

Dad’s Favorite Soup, Salads and Bread:

For the Tuna Salad, and the German Potato Salad stick with the sparklers I mentioned above.  For the Roasted Beet soup, I recommend the “Chef’s Wine” – Pinot Noir.  Like sparkling wine, its got great acidity, which make it very food friendly.  The acidity has the effect of cleansing the palate and preparing it for the next mouthful of deliciousness!  It can be a challenge to find a budget friendly Pinot Noir.  Look for the 2008 Buena Vista Pinot Noir, it’s about $10 at Trader Joe’s.  It has a nice mix of cherry, and earthy flavors that will be a great complement a variety of food, especially Roasted Beet Soup. 

Father’s Day Favorite Main Dishes:

I recommend Syrah for the following dishes.  Syrah is a “big” wine that will stand up the the hearty nature of these dishes.  What I like about Syrah is that it typically has more acidity than Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot. That enables it to pair with a wider range of foods.  Look for the 2010 Andrew Murray Tous Les Jours Syrah.  It retails for $16.  Another great option for these dishes is a Côtes du Rhone Villages, which is often a blend of Syrah, along with Grenache and Mourvedre.  Look for the 2009 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve Red.  It’s around $15. 

For these dishes I recommend 2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris.  Pinot Gris is a “cousin” to Pinot Noir, it has good acidity, and is more full-bodied that Pinot Grigio, so it will stand of to the bolder flavors of these dishes.  

Dad’s Sweet Tooth:
When pairing wine with dessert the main thing to remember is that the wine should be sweeter than the dessert.  Since I’m not sure how sweet the desserts are I’ll propose a few dessert wines that will work with this alluring line-up of desserts.
For the all but the sweetest of chocolate based desserts, especially the Black Forest cheesecake, I recommend  Banfi Brachetto d Acqui Rosa Regale, which is a red sparkling wine from Italy, made from the Brachetto grape.  It  complements chocolate very well.  And because it’s a sparkler it has the added benefit of cleansing the palate.  Around $20
For the fruit based desserts, custards, meringue, puddings I recommend a Late Harvest Riesling.  It’s a sweeter dessert wine, but the acidity of the Riesling keeps it from being cloying.  I recommend 2010 Hogue Cellars Late Harvest Riesling. Around $10
And finally, Dad might like a little Port to go something a little bit sweeter, or that contains nuts. Try the Graham Porto 10-year Tawny.  Port has the added advantage of being longer-lived than my other dessert wine recommendations.  That’s nice because, of course you DO want to let Dad know he’s appreciated more than once a year. Right? 

To learn more about Sunday Supper, please visit Family Foodie!

What Are The Most Food Friendly Wines?

It’s my pleasure to share this post of mine recently published by 12most.

12 Most Food-Friendly Wines

In my recent post entitled “12 Most Practical Wine and Food Pairing Guidelines”, one my recommendations for sensibly pairing food and wine is to get to know “food-friendly” wines. Food-friendly wines have three primary characteristics 1) Palate-cleansing acidity, 2) Lots of fruitiness with low tannins, and 3) Balanced components (i.e. fruit, acidity, and tannins).

Try these wines for those times you don’t want to put a lot of thought into what wine you’re having with weeknight meals, or more casual gatherings. There’s something here for everyone — Whites, Reds, Sparkling and Rosé. Keep in mind that each of the wines come in broad range of styles. Let your palate be your guide for the style you prefer.


1. Beaujolais

This wine, made from the Gamay grape is named for the region from which it hails. Think Beaujolais when you want a red that you’d normally have with a white wine. Many top crus go for around $20
Recommended Region(s): France – Cru Beaujolais (non-Nouveau)
Profile: Light-bodied with moderate to high acidity, and low tannins with aromatic red plum, cherry, raspberry, hints of black pepper aromas/flavors.

2. Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the most well-known food friendly red wine.
Recommended Region(s): France – Burgundy, California, Oregon, and New Zealand
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity with aromatic with floral, cherry, red currant, raspberry, and sometimes gamey aromas/flavors when young, aging to vegetal and mushroom when mature

3. Sangiovese (san-jo-veh-zeh)

Generally speaking, Italy makes a plethora of food friendly wines, especially reds. Sangiovese is the most planted red grape in Italy, and the most important grape used in the great wines of Tuscany. It is one of the wine world’s great gifts to the culinary world! It’s a natural for dishes containing tomatoes, or acidic tomato sauces
Recommended Region(s): Italy (Tuscany), California
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity with black cherry, spice, smoky, herbal savory aromas/flavors.

4. Zinfandel

Zinfandel can go far beyond burgers and BBQ. I’ve enjoyed with Mexican, and Pakistani dishes. The style of Zinfandel is crucial for matching it with food. Look for lighter “Beaujolais” style Zinfandel at around 14% a.b.v, and “Claret” style between 14% and 15% a.b.v. for maximum food pairing versatility. If prefer “bigger” Zinfandels, then opt for pairing with richer foods.
Recommended Region(s): California
Profile: Medium/Full bodied moderate to high acidity, and strawberry, raspberry, plum, blackberry, pepper, bramble, and spice aromas/flavors

5. Syrah

Syrah and Syrah based blends do a great job of striking a balance between finesse and power. It can be full-bodied and complex like Cabernet Sauvignon, but tend to be less tannic. Cool climate Syrah is especially food friendly. And many very good examples can be found for less than $20.
Recommended Region(s): France (Rhône), California, Washington, and Australia
Profile: Medium/full-bodied with moderate to high acidity, with blackcurrant, plum, blackberry, earthy, herbal, chocolate, and violet aromas/flavors


6. Riesling

Riesling is the most well-known white food friendly wine. Thanks to its food loving nature, it’s on the upswing. If you’re looking for one wine to serve with many dishes, Riesling is an excellent choice, especially if you’re not into red wine. Look for dry and off-dry styles
Recommended Region(s): Germany, France (Alsace) Washington, New York, California
Profile: Light-bodied with high to very high acidity, and Intensely aromatic with floral, green apples, light spice aromas/flavors when you ageing to petrol and honey when mature

7. Sauvignon Blanc

Stylistically, Sauvignon Blanc tends to be the opposite of Chardonnay. That’s because it tends not to see as much oak as Chardonnay and its acidity is more apparent. It’s very versatile food wine, especially with dishes emphasizing, or enhanced with fresh herbs. Try it with guacamole!
Recommended Region(s): France (Loire, and Bordeaux), U.S., New Zealand,
Profile: Light-bodied with high to very high acidity, and aromatic, grassy, herbaceous, tropical, citrus, and gooseberries aromas/flavors

8. Grüner Vetliner

Grüner Vetliner (GROO-ner FELT-leen-ner) is indigenous to Austria, where it accounts for about a third Austria grape production. It’s a favorite of many sommeliers because of its versatility with foods. Here in the US we often reach for red wine to accompany meat dishes, but in Austria, Grüner is served with game, beef, pork, poultry and veal. Looking for a wine for tough food matches like asparagus, and artichokes? Try Grüner. And it’s great with fried chicken!
Recommended Region(s): Austria
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity, with vanilla-dipped peach, grapefruit, and aromas/flavors with a distinctive spicy finish.

9. Chardonnay

This most popular wine has very good “foodability” if it is not overly oaked. In fact, more unoaked Chardonnay is being produced these days. While unoaked Chardonnay may be a bit more versatile food partner, oaked (used judiciously) Chardonnay typically makes a more full-bodied wine.
Recommended Region(s): France (Chablis, and Burgundy), California, Australia, Chile, and Argentina
Profile: Light/Medium-bodied with high to very high acidity, and floral, ripe apple, pineapple, butterscotch, lemon, vanilla, and custard aromas/flavors.

10. Sherry

Hear me out on this one. I’m not referring to your grandmother’s Cream Sherry. I’m referring to dry Sherry. And thanks to adventurous wine geeks, and passionate sherry lovers, this fortified wine is gaining in popularity because of its food friendly nature and exceptional quality/price ratio.
True Sherry, is only produced in Spain’s “Sherry Triangle”. It’s a singularly unique beverage because of its terroir, and the method by which it is produced. With its unique tangy, sometimes oxidative and saline flavors, it can be polarizing. It was a bit of an acquired taste for me, but I think it’s fabulous with food!

The principles of pairing Sherry with food are like other wines, according to weight and texture. For Fino and Manzanillo think appetizers, seafood, and sushi, and sashimi. Pair Amontillado, with its rich nuttiness, with stronger flavored foods (including spicy foods) like oily fishes and chicken dishes. Serve chilled.

Recommended Region: Spain

Profile: The main styles of Sherry are light-bodied, straw colored, dry Fino, and fuller bodied darker Oloroso. Between Fino and Oloroso in body, and dryness are Manzanillo, and Amontillado.  Typical aromas and flavors of Finos are yeasty, toasted almond, green apples, and slightly oxidative.  Oloroso tend to be more aromatic with fresh mixed nuts, dried fruit, and citrus peel.

11. Rosé

Rosés (in particular dry Rosé) combine the best of white and red wines, while maintaining their own unique charm. They possess the crisp acidity, delicacy and freshness of white wines, and the body, and flavors of red wines. Rosés are diverse bunch, produced from a wide range of grapes, in various styles ranging from simple quaffable wines to complex gems in a wide palette of colors. Don’t relegate these babies to warm weather months. Because of their versatility they’re wonderful year-round!
Recommended Region(s): France, Spain, Italy, and U.S.
Profile: Light/medium bodied with strawberry, melon, and cherry aroma/flavors


12. Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines are very versatile and food friendly because of their innately high acidity levels, and their palate cleansing “scrubbing bubbles” effect. They can be served throughout the day, and throughout a meal too. The driest ones are excellent as an aperitif and with shellfish and caviar. Off-dry bubbly is suitable for brunch, lunch, salads, and many dinner entrees. The sweeter ones pair nicely with fruit- based desserts.
Recommended Region(s): France, US, Spain (Cava), Italy (Prosecco)

Profile: Light to medium-full bodied, and bone-dry Extra Brut to sweet “doux”.  Typical aromas and flavors are yeast, apple, citrus, stone fruit, and cherry depending on the blend of grape varieties used

With these 12 wines in your vinous arsenal, you’ll overcome many a gastronomic challenge! Are there any favorites of yours that I left out?

Featured image courtesy of jinhai via Creative Commons.

How To Sensibly Pair Food and Wine

It’s my pleasure to share this post of mine recently published by 12most.

12 Most Practical Guidelines for Wine and Food Pairing

Pairing wine and food has been around a long time. For individuals who’ve grown up in homes where wine is a daily part of life, wine and food pairing can come pretty naturally because they have a vast base of experience upon which to draw. For the rest of us, wine and food pairing can be daunting. That’s because not only are we relatively inexperienced, but the way we cook, eat and drink in the real world rarely features the flavors of a single food. Even a simple meal can present a kaleidoscope of flavors and textures.

Let’s begin with expectations. Otherworldly wine pairings – those extraordinary flavor affinities when wine and food work so well together that they somehow create a greater whole, doesn’t happen often. Likewise, truly awful pairings are typically infrequent. That leaves two kinds of pairings – when the wine and food pair in such a way that each makes the other better, and when the wine and food co-exist peacefully, if unexcitedly. The vast majority of pairings fall into these two categories.

Wine and food pairing isn’t an exact science. Much of it falls within the realm of instinct. The good news is that instincts can be acquired by knowing some basic guidelines about how wine and food interact.

If you follow the guidelines offered you’ll not only dramatically increase your chances of creating magic from time to time, but more importantly create more pairings when the food and wine make each other better.

The guidelines aren’t mutually exclusive. Rather the first six guidelines are the foundation upon which the second six more specific guidelines are constructed.

Photo courtesy of Ecosalon

1. Drink what you like

This is the most common first rule of wine and food pairing because wine and food pairing is very subjective. It’s all about what YOU like and/or may be in the mood for. In the worst-case scenario, you don’t like the wine and food together; you can drink the wine (which presumably you know you enjoy) either before or after the meal. Having said that, if you’d like to enjoy your wine and food together, or are looking to add to the repertoire of wines to go with your favorite dishes, read on.

2. Acidity is your BFF

Acidity is the most important factor in pairing wine with food. That’s because wine with good acidity can “cut” foods that are rich, salty, fatty, oily or mildly spicy. They also go better with tart foods such as vinaigrette on a salad. Wines with high acidity leave you wanting to take a bite of food, and after taking a bite of food, you’ll want a sip of wine. Think about how a squeeze of lemon can complement or temper a rich or salty dish. Wines with high acidity such as Sparkling wines, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, or a dry Riesling do the same when served with food.

3. Choose versatile wines

This is my favorite because it makes it much easier to pair wine and food. I keep versatile wines at the ready because they work with a wide range of foods. If you’re not sure which wine to enjoy with your meal, and you’re looking to avoid the brain damage wine and food pairing may cause, then get to know food friendly wines. Keep them on hand and try them with a variety of dishes. What makes a wine a versatile partner with food? Generally speaking either good acidity (see #2 above), or wines that are fruity with low tannins like Zinfandel, simple Italian reds, Rose, and Rhone blends.

4. There should be one star of the show

If you want to showcase a knockout recipe, then select a lower key wine. On the other hand, if you want to showcase a special bottle of wine, then the food selection should play a supporting role. According to Evan Goldstein in Perfect Pairings, “Much like two people in a conversation, in the wine and food partnership one must listen while the other speaks, or the result is a muddle”.

For those times you’re not showcasing either the wine or the food, it’s best to match humble foods with humble wines.

5. Match the “weight” of the food and the wine

Match delicate wines with delicate foods and robust wines with robust foods. It makes sense that a light-bodied wine like a Pinot Noir wouldn’t be a good match for a spicy curry dish. On the other hand dishes with bold, spicy flavors tend to go well with big, bold spicy wines. For example a bold spicy Zinfandel would make a nice match for spicy Mexican dishes.

Forget the color coding approach to matching wine and food – white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat. It may work, but it’s too limiting. Pinot Noir with a roast chicken or salmon are great examples of pairing “white” meat with a red wine. It works because the wine and the food are of comparable “weight’. And what gives a wine its weight? In a word, alcohol. The higher a wine’s alcohol content the more full-bodied the wine seems. Keep in mind as a wine’s alcohol content increases, food pairing options decrease.

6. There’s no place like home

Food generally goes best with the wines they grew up with. That’s why Italian dishes pair well with Italian wines. Of course, Italian dishes pair with other wines too, and Italian wine goes well with a host of non-Italian dishes; but like peanut butter and jelly, the food of a place tends to go well with the wines of that same place.

7. Pair to dominant taste first, flavors second

When thinking about which wines to pair with food start with the primary tastes – salty, sweet, sour, and bitter before considering specific flavors. So, what’s the difference between tastes and flavor? Tastes are objective, whereas flavors tend to be subjective. For example, the sourness of a lemon, or the sweetness of honey are objective. A lemon is sour and honey is not. On the other hand describing the flavor of a strawberry is personal and subjective.

Just as foods have primary tastes, so do wines – those being sweet, sour and bitter. This opens the door to match foods and wines, or if you desire to set up contrasts. Start with the primary taste for either the wine or the food, then decide if you want to mirror or contrast the taste before getting into the specifics of flavors. Speaking of dominant tastes and flavors, pair to the sauce because that typically dominates a dish.

8. How the food is prepared matters

Bear in mind that cooking techniques can influence dominant tastes, flavors, and texture. For example, steaming and poaching impart minimal flavors, while smoking, blackening, and grilling have a major impact on flavors. Sautéing is fairly neutral, while braising and roasting are somewhere in the middle. For example, I’d serve a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay with Poached Salmon, but a Zinfandel with Blackened Salmon.

9. Spicy and salty foods like sweet wines.

Wines come in varying degrees of sweetness from off-dry (slightly sweet) to semi-dry (medium sweet) to an unctuous dessert wine that could satisfy a sweet tooth.

Wines that are off-dry or semi-dry, such as a Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, or Muscat make a great counterbalance for moderately spicy Indian and Asian dishes. That’s because the sweetness of the wine cuts the heat (unlike carbonated beverages which amplify the perception of heat). Likewise, a sweet wine can provide a nice counterbalance to salty food. For example, the classic wine and food pairing of French Sauternes and Roquefort.

10. Tannins

Tannins in wine are associated with a bitter taste and that “sandpaper” feeling on your tongue. It’s created by the astringency from tannic acid. Tannic wines like a Cabernet, Bordeaux, or Petite Sirah tend to be a good match for bitter foods, which is a reason why foods that have been grilled or blackened along with naturally bitter ingredients like arugula or endive go well with more tannic wines. Tannins also provide a nice counterbalance to fats and protein because the astringency of the tannins “cut” through the fat. Protein is an important partner when pairing a tannic wine with fat because if there’s not enough protein, tannins can react chemically with the available protein on your tongue and inside your mouth, coming across as too tannic. Of course, a classic example would be a grilled steak and Cabernet Sauvignon.

11. Hold the Oak please

Wines raised in oak are more challenging to pair with food because the aging in oak imparts tannins, and oaky flavors are exaggerated by food. Consider pairing that young Cabernet Sauvignon or Nebbiolo with grilled meat or other foods that have a bitter taste. And that oaky, buttery Chardonnay you love? It may not taste so good with the meal. Conversely unoaked wines are easier to pair with foods.

12. Sweeter than sweet

An under-appreciated aspect of wine and food pairing is desserts. While dessert can stand on its own, it can be enhanced with the right wine. Just remember the wine should be sweeter than the dessert. Otherwise, the sweetness of the dessert will make the wine taste bitter. That’s why Port matches so well with semi-sweet chocolate.

There you have it, fairly straight forward wine and food pairing guidelines. Remember it’s wine and food – not life and death!

What’s next? Start experimenting. That’s where the real excitement is! The only way to hone your instincts for wine and food pairing is to try lots of combinations to determine what you like. I assure you, if you just pay a little attention, you’ll be rewarded with better food pairings and yes, even a few more “wow” moments!