Customers often ask us to recommend a wine they should serve with a specific food. Some people mistakenly believe that they will ruin an entire meal if they make the "wrong" wine choice. Regardless of what the "wine experts" say, it's impossible to ruin a good meal if you select a wine that you enjoy. Always follow your own tastes and don't be afraid to experiment.
If you want to talk "rules" of wine and food pairing, the oldest one in the book is red wine with red meat, white wine with fish or fowl. However, rules are meant to be broken. We've really enjoyed some creative combinations, like our Marechal Foch, which is a light red wine, or even Deer Garden Blush with salmon. We've also had some of our most memorable Thanksgiving Turkeys with Cranberry Wine or even Honeywine.
With this in mind, there are some general guidelines you may find helpful when selecting a wine to enhance your meal.
1. Select light-bodied wines to pair with lighter food, and fuller-bodied wines to go with heartier, more flavorful dishes. Using the salmon example above, the Marechal Foch works beautifully with the fish because you are matching light to light. Otherwise a full-bodied, heavier wine will overpower a light, delicate dish, and similarly, a lighter style wine will not have enough intensity to balance a hearty roast.
2. Consider how the food is prepared. Is it grilled, roasted, or fried? What type of sauce or spice is used? For example, chicken with a lemon butter sauce will call for a different more delicate wine to play off the sauce than chicken cacciatore with all of the tomato and Italian spices, or a grilled chicken breast.
3. Food reacts to wine, and wine reacts to food. When you drink wine by itself it tastes one way, but after you take a bite of food, the wine often tastes different. This is because wine is like a spice. Elements in the wine interact with the food to provide a different taste sensation like these basic reactions:
Sweet Foods like Italian tomato sauce, Japanese teriyaki, and honey-mustard glazes make your wine seem drier than it really is so try an off-dry (slightly sweet) wine to balance the flavor (Riesling, Stinger Honeywine, and Raspberry Wine).
High Acid Foods like salads with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, soy sauce, or fish served with a squeeze of lemon will make low acid wines seem flat. Pair these foods with wines that are higher in acid (Chardonnay, Rhubarb, and Cranberry Wine).
Bitter and Astringent Foods like a mixed green salad of bitter greens, Greek kalamata olives and charbroiled meats accentuate a wine's bitterness so complement it with a full-flavored forward fruity wine (Deer Garden White, Marechal Foch). Big tannic red wines (like Merlot or Syrah) will go best with your classic grilled steak or lamb chops, as the fat in the meat will tone down the tannin in the wine.
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