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11 Wines to Set Your Mealtime Palate

11 Wines to Set Your Mealtime Palate

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We often want to have something to drink before we sit down at the table — the wine equivalent of the chef’s amuse-bouche for us to nibble — and that wine should have milder flavors and good acidity to help us prepare for food.

Although rosés and sparkling wines can also be served with food, they are excellent choices to begin a meal, especially in the summer, when we appreciate something cool and crisp. Here are some recent choices, along with a solo sangria and a riesling.

Mumm Napa Brut Rosé NV ($20). Nice body, but with crisp strawberry favors — very refreshing.

Mumm Napa “Cuvée M” Napa County Sparkling Wine NV ($20). A frou-frou sparkler with soft-and-fuzzy fruitiness and sugary creaminess with light acidity in the finish.

Moët et Chandon “Grand Vintage” Rosé 2006 (about $75). An excellent wine, very engaging and lively with a lingering richness, it is full-bodied with slight tangy fruit and fresh-tasting brioche flavors.

Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti 2014 ($16). A delightful frizzy and fizzy wine with low alcohol — just 5 percent — lightly sweet with toasty almond flavors, yet crisp and refreshing. Drink all you want!

Cricova “Crisecco” Moldova Brut NV ($12). Spicy green fruit, like a very herbal sparkling gewürztraminer.

Michel Torino Calchaqui Valley Rosé 2014 ($15). Three words — fruity, herbal, juicy — with flavors of cherries and very-ripe strawberries.

Stinson Monticello Rosé 2014 ($19). Fresh strawberry flavors followed by good crispness — friendly, not severe. Made from mourvèdre grapes.

Crios Mendoza Rosé of Malbec 2014 ($15). A bonbon wine — soft and fluffy with a center of maraschino cherry, just off-dry with a crisp acidity. One glass would do it.

Michel Chapoutier Bita-Haut Pays d’Oc Rosé 2014 ($12). Beautiful ripe-cherry fruitiness, very rounded, with medium body and a somewhat crisp finish.

St. Urbans-Hof “Urban” Mosel Riesling 2014 ($11). Definitely a sipping wine — rather simple, spicy, and somewhat sweet with fair balancing acidity.

Mija Sangria NV ($8). Its cranberry fruit juice flavors are somewhat somber, like a French aperitif.

Pinot Noir: What to Know and 8 Bottles to Try

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Known for its high acid, low tannins and incredible ability to age, pinot noir produces some of the most sought-after wines in the world. However, despite its many redeeming qualities, it’s not always smooth sailing with this finicky variety.

On the viticultural side of things, pinot noir is actually quite difficult to grow, as its thin skins make it very susceptible to hazardous climate conditions. In the cellar, the fruit’s ultra-delicate juice also makes it highly receptive to vinification and aging techniques, so a meticulous attention to detail is required.

When all things work together for good, pinot noir grapes produce some of the most exquisite, aromatic and thought-provoking wines on the market. As always, knowing what you’re getting into and seeking out great producers is the key.

Pinot noir is a red grape variety that creates light- to medium-bodied wines high in acid and low in tannins. The grape is known for being highly temperamental, as it requires lots of attention in the vineyard since it can be prone to rot and disease. Pinot noir gets its name for the French word for pine (pinot), as its clusters grow in the shape of a pine cone, and the French word for black (noir), because of its dark-hued skins.

The pinot gris (or grigio) grape is considered to be a mutation of pinot noir, meaning that its DNA profile is exactly identical to that of pinot noir. It’s likely that pinot blanc was the original form of pinot and came long before pinot noir, though the latter is more commonly cultivated today.

It’s believed that pinot noir comes from France’s Burgundy region, where it’s still widely planted today. Its other notable homes include, but are not limited to, Australia, Austria, Germany (where it’s called spatburgunder), New Zealand, the United States (California, Oregon and New York’s Finger Lakes) and elsewhere in France (Alsace, Champagne and the Loire Valley). Pinot noir is one of the most widely planted red grape varieties around the world.

The grape is vinified in a variety of styles, and its final flavor profile is heavily dependent on where it’s grown and the vinification techniques imparted on it. A common practice in pinot noir vinification is whole-cluster fermentation, meaning that the grapes are fermented with their whole bunches (stems and seeds included), as opposed to being destemmed prior to vinification. Most pinot noir wines see some form of oak (generally neutral) during the aging process, though there are plenty of steel-vinified pinots found on the market.

Depending on where it's grown and how it’s made, pinot noir can take on a variety of characteristics. Whole-cluster fermented pinot noirs take on spicy, stemmy and herbal flavors. When aged in used woods, notes of cinnamon, vanilla and/or baking spice are common. Overall, pinot noir wines are known for their flavors of cherries, red fruits, mushroom and wet soil.

In New World regions, pinot-noir-based wines tend to be juicier, plumper and fuller-bodied. Their alcohol levels are usually slightly higher and the acid tends to be lower. In Old World regions, pinot noir often takes on more earth-driven notes. Alcohol levels are more moderate, and acidity tends to be higher. As pinot noir ages, more vegetal and “barnyard” notes commonly break through on the palate.

Pinot noir’s high levels of acid and low levels of tannins make it incredibly food-friendly on the table. Traditional pinot pairings include game birds, roasted poultry, casseroles and French-inspired stews, though you should also try these wines with charcuterie, cheese boards and fatty fish such as tuna or salmon. Basically, the world is your oyster here, although we wouldn’t recommend pairing pinot (or any red wine, for that matter) with actual oysters.

11 Wines to Set Your Mealtime Palate - Recipes

We were asked to write tasting notes for our wines because, well, that’s just the thing you do when you have wine to sell. So, we sat down, as asked, to write the obligatory notes. What happened? We made our notes short and sweet. Why? For us at Here’s The Thing Vineyards, we would rather hear about your impressions – what do you smell and taste? And don’t worry, there really is no correct answer – that’s the beauty of wine. We can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

Did you know that with this first case of wine you are thinking of purhcasing you qualify to become a member of the Here’s The Deal Wine Club? Pop over to our club page and check it out and learn more.

SHIPPING: Our shipping rates are set by destination provinces and territories within Canada only. We ship cases of 12 bottles. Feel free to mix and match to build your perfect case. Shipping rates are calculated at checkout.

Our default shipper is ATS Healthcare. We use a health care courier because they provide climate controlled trucks, which means we can ship your wine at any time of the year and not worry about the weather.

All our rates also include heat/cold protection. So you don’t have to worry about shipping in extreme temperatures.

Working with the framework from WorkSafeBC, guidance from Interior Health and input from our own staff, we have developed our plan for safe resumption of tastings at Here’s The Thing Vineyards.

Our plan for helping to stop the spread of Covid-19 depends on co-operation from all individuals that enter our premises – this includes our tasting guests. Our ultimate goal is to deliver our service in a fun and relaxed atmosphere while adhering to the safety guidelines. Please review our COVID-19 Safety Plan when planning your visit.

We have the capacity to have three groups of 6 in the tasting room at one time with a maximum number of 18 guests. We cannot accept groups larger than 6. Walk-ins are welcome! We are not taking reservations at this time.

Living the Dream
– 100% Cabernet Franc smelling and tasting of cherry and raspberry with a slight edge of earth…I’m going to find a great paella recipe!

$20 + tx & deposit

Hundred Percent
Viognier – Expressive aromas of peach with a palate of apricot and lemon. A dry finish leaves crisp lemon flavours. Fish Tacos anyone?

$23 + tx & deposit

Roussanne – Aromas of fresh orchard apples leading to a textured palate of honey and minerality. Rich seafood or grilled chicken would pair nicely.

$23 + tx & deposit

Orange Musca
t – Sweet floral aromas leaping from the glass lead to a palate dominated by everything citrus. A perfect pair with spicy foods or not-so-sweet desserts.

$23 + tx & deposit

Gamay Noir
– A light wine perfect for summer meals. Violets on the nose, cherries on the palate. If you like duck, this is your wine. And if it is hot out, chill the wine!

$28 + tx & deposit

– Silky-smooth and elegant smelling of raspberry jam. An edge of stone and more berries on the long finish. We love this wine with lamb and grilled vegetables.

$30 + tx & deposit


Cabernet Franc
– Aromas of blackberry and earth lead to a weighty Cab Franc tasting of dark cherry with soft tannins. From pizza and pasta to heavy cheese, dark poultry and red meats…have some fun with food pairing!

$28 + tx & deposit

One More Thing
Merlot Cabernet Franc
– 53% Merlot / 47% Cabernet Franc making this our heaviest most bold wine. Plush, soft and delicious. Warning…this wine may lead to more than one glass!

A 3-point plan for choosing wine you really want to drink

Two wines by the Drouhin family — one made in France, the other in Oregon — provide a tasty lesson in how to evaluate wines. (Dave McIntyre)

What do we look for in a wine? Some people want a catchy name or pretty label, as long as it says “chardonnay.” Many prefer dry wines, while some favor sweetness in their vino. And judging by the number of fat, clunky bottles on wine store shelves, wineries think we prefer to pay more for packaging than quality on the inside.

“What do you look for in a wine?” is a question I get often, around the water cooler at work or at dinner parties with friends. These are people who don’t obsess about grape juice the way I do, who don’t reflexively swirl their water glasses, who don’t have four recycle bins, who don’t struggle to type words like “window” without adding an extraneous “e” — people with a life, in other words. They want wine to be tasty, reliable and affordable. They wonder why I prefer one sauvignon blanc over another, what sets this cabernet apart from that merlot or why anyone of sound mind would pay more than (fill in your personal budget here) for a bottle of wine.

“What do you look for in a wine?” is not really an easy question to answer. Sometimes my preference depends on my mood. Bubbles can help celebrate success at work and offer consolation after a bad day. A crisp refreshing rosé helps take the edge off and stimulates my appetite for dinner, while a glass of port after the meal offers comfort and contemplation.

But my friends don’t want to hear about my moods. They want to know what to look for themselves, how to evaluate a wine’s quality. So I emphasize the three stages of tasting wine: the attack, the middle and the finish.

The attack includes the all-important swirl and sniff: Does the wine smell clean or funky? Is it fresh and fruity, or does it smell like brown sugar, caramel and dried or stewed fruits? When you taste it, is your first impression invigorating with acidity, making you salivate and priming your palate for the next sip or your next bite of food? Is the wine light and ethereal? Or is it heavy and woody, drying your mouth with tannin?

The middle is when you swish the wine around in your mouth — and yes, you are allowed to do that. It is encouraged, and with a little practice you will even be able to do it without dribbling down your shirt. Do the flavors remain the same or do they change? Are you noticing different flavors as the wine hits the various parts of your mouth and taste buds, or does it remain the same? Does the alcohol burn your mouth? Do the flavors drop off and disappear? (Some wines are described as doughnuts, lacking a middle.)

The main facility and grounds of Domaine Drouhin Oregon winery in Dundee, Ore. (Dave McIntyre)

Now swallow and savor the finish. Do the flavors linger on your palate, perhaps even changing some more? Is your final impression harsh, sweet or savory? Think again about acidity and tannin: Does the wine leave you refreshed and looking for something to eat? In red wine, does the tannin finish gently, perhaps with an itching sensation on your tongue and teeth? That suggests good structure and aging potential. And steak.

So take a bite of that steak or whatever you’re eating and then take another sip of the wine. Does the wine now taste different? Does it clash with the food, or does it seem to ignore it and taste the same? Or do the flavors of the food and wine combine into something new and different, even exciting?

These questions apply to any wines — white, red or pink, bubbly or fortified. As you pay attention to what you’re drinking, you’ll be able to notice and describe the differences between a chardonnay and a Riesling, or a syrah and a pinot noir. And you’ll begin to define what you look for in a wine.

Recently, when a dinner guest asked me the question, I decided to illustrate my points rather than explain them. I opened two wines as examples: the Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis 2014 from Joseph Drouhin, and the Roserock Pinot Noir 2014 Eola-Amity Hills from Drouhin Oregon. Same family, different terroirs, two delicious wines.

The chablis was pure chardonnay — not in the sense of being unblended, but it tasted of fruit and little else. It wasn’t puffed up with oak. It didn’t need to be. The wine was full-bodied without being heavy, and it seemed to channel the chalky soils of chablis. It was an excellent partner for dinner (grilled chicken, sage sausage, spicy jicama salad).

The pinot noir was quintessential Willamette Valley: smoky dark-fruit flavors and a pitch-perfect balance. It was a beautiful wine to savor on the patio on an unusually cool August evening.

When I mentioned that Oregon pinot noir is my go-to wine whenever I feel sad or melancholy, I ignited a new line of questioning — from my wife. But that’s another story.

7 Secrets of Cooking With Wine

Ready to start experimenting with wine cookery? Here are seven basics you should know.

1. Play off the subtle flavors in wine.

Here are some of the subtle food-like flavors that can come through in wine -- which you may want to capitalize on by adding some to dishes containing these foods:

  • White wine: melon, apple, pineapple, pear, citrus, vanilla, caramel, olives, and mushrooms
  • Red wine: berries, peaches, currants, plums, cherries, oranges, chocolate, and coffee

A very dry wine has very few natural sugars remaining, and is usually higher in alcohol. In contrast, the sweeter wines still contain a larger amount of natural sugar from the grapes. So choose the type of wine depending on the flavor you want in the dish you're making.

"Acid" is a term used to describe both red and white wines, and it refers to the sharp bite in the wine (much like you would experience with lemon juice or vinegar). Acid can help bring out the natural flavors in a mild food, such as fish (this is why fish is often served with an acidic wedge of lemon). Tannins are generally found in red wines this word refers to the bitter element in the wine (similar to the bitterness you'll find in a strong cup of tea). The tannins in red wine pair well with strongly flavored dishes and hearty foods, like a nice juicy steak. "Tannins will act like palate cleansers when paired with foods high in protein, such as meat," says Marshall Rimann, host of The Wine Cellar, a radio show originating in Kansas City, Mo.


4. What type of wine should be used to cook which type of food?

Generally, it's thought that a light-flavored wine goes best with delicately flavored foods. It would follow that a bold-tasting wine might do well in a boldly flavored dish.

Don't be afraid to do your own thing, but generally, light-colored meats like chicken and fish, are paired with light-colored wines (white) while dark-colored meats, like beef, are paired with dark-colored wines (red). What about the "other white meat?" You can serve either red or white with pork, says Rimann. "Red dinner wines go well with hearty or highly seasoned foods, such as beef, pork, game, duck, goose, and pasta dishes, while white dinner wines tend to work with dishes containing chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, ham, and veal," he says.


5. Consider the preparation

Rimann says it's important to consider not only the type of meat, but the way the meat is prepared when choosing a wine to use in cooking or serve at the table. For example, a dish heavy on the spices usually needs a full-bodied wine to stand up to it. One with a light or creamy sauce calls for a drier, light wine.


6. That last secret to cooking with wine: Have fun!

Feel free to experiment while cooking or baking with wine. Get creative, and try to invent new flavor combinations. And, after you've created something spectacular don't forget to write down how you did it!

Here are a couple of recipes to get you started.

2 pounds beef top round roast, or similar (this roast is usually already trimmed of all visible fat)
Salt and pepper
8-10 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons canola or olive oil
3/4 cup French onion soup, condensed, from a can (such as Campbell's)
3/4 cup merlot (or other mellow red wine)

  • If your roast is the rolled-up type, remove mesh or ties from surface and unroll the roast. Arrange garlic cloves evenly on top, and then sprinkle freshly ground salt and pepper over the top. Roll the roast up (but don't put any mesh or ties back on).
  • Start heating the canola or olive oil in a medium nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the rolled-up roast to the pan and let the bottom brown for a couple of minutes. Flip and brown the other side (a couple minutes more). Carefully place browned roast in slow cooker so that it remains rolled up.
  • Pour onion soup concentrate and wine over the top. Cover and cook on LOW for about four hours.


Per serving: 240 calories, 33.5 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate, 7.9 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 3.5 g monounsaturated fat, 7 g polyunsaturated fat, 78 mg cholesterol, 0.2 g fiber, 285 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 30%.


1 box (18.25 oz) white cake mix
1 package (5 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
3/4 cup chardonnay (or other white wine)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup egg substitute

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the inside of a bundt pan with canola cooking spray, then dust with about 2 tablespoons of flour.
  • Add cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, and nutmeg to mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer on LOW speed to blend well.
  • Add the sour cream, wine, eggs, and egg substitute to mixing bowl and beat with mixer on medium speed for five minutes (scraping sides and bottom of bowl after a minute).
  • Pour into prepared bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes. Invert pan on serving plate carefully to release the cake. Serve.


Per serving: 259 calories, 5 g protein, 48 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2.3 g monounsaturated fat, 1.9 g polyunsaturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 0.6 g fiber, 440 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 23%.


SOURCE: Marshall Rimann, wine shop owner host, The Wine Cellar, radio show dedicated to food and wine, Kansas City, Mo. Hormel Foods web site.

Why try your hand at blending wine? To learn what you like, and how to find it.

At Conn Creek Winery’s wine blending class, it takes a mighty array of glasses, beakers, pipettes and charts, along with copious notes, to understand how different wine varietals come together to make a balanced glass. (Kristen Hartke)

Sitting in a room full of wine barrels, winemakers and sommeliers seemed like a dream come true until such terms as “sub-appellations,” “malolactic fermentation” and “diurnal fluctuation” started being bandied about with abandon. It was like I had landed on an island where the natives speak a different language, and I was just hoping to nod my head at the correct time.

I’m a wine consumer, not a connoisseur, although I have a pretty good palate that I’m trying to hone, which is why I was drawn to this wine blending class in the heart of California’s Napa Valley. I imagined sampling different varietals — cabernet, zinfandel, syrah — and blending them to find my personal flavor profile, much in the way I might adjust a cake recipe by adding a teaspoon of smoked cinnamon or a touch of fresh orange zest. And once I got over being intimidated by the winemaker’s lexicon, that is exactly what happened. In fact, now I’m a bit of a wine-blending junkie.

That, of course, is Conn Creek Winery’s goal. “Our hope is that our guests enjoy the diversity of the wines and understand what makes them the way they are, ideally triggering a greater interest in the complexities of wine,” says winemaker Mike McGrath, who teaches the class. “Typically, we see guests gravitate toward the rich and bold section, but once they start blending, each creation becomes unique.”

Blending bleakers help get the measurements right. (Kristen Hartke)

The first task was to create a 600-milliliter cabernet sauvignon base, using California wines whose flavors were categorized as either soft, supple, complex, rich or bold, in any combination, tasting each variety for different flavors. For me, the “soft” cabernet held notes of vanilla, while I found the “supple” variety to have a slightly yeasty base that reminded me of proofing sweet rolls, and “bold” held the scent of late summer roses and almost overripe berries. My palate gravitated toward wines from central Napa Valley’s Rutherford AVA (American Viticultural Area), said to have a “dusty” quality from sandy soil and volcanic deposits, and the Calistoga AVA, closer to the Russian River, where hot days and cool nights provide rich flavors and bright acidity.

It’s chemistry, for sure, but utterly subjective at the same time. After two tests, I came up with a base blend of 300 milliliters “supple,” 200 milliliters “bold” and 100 milliliters “complex” — a combination that was just a bit buttery with a savory floral undertone, like a not-too-sweet blackberry danish.

Once that base was created, it was time to add a total of 200 milliliters of other varietals — merlot, cabernet franc, malbec or petit verdot — for an even more personal twist, rather like adding fresh herbs, citrus or spice to a bowl of pasta. I found that 150 milliliters of merlot provided a mild peppery bite, and 50 milliliters of a tannic petit verdot balanced out all the fruit with a touch of dryness.

Presto! In about an hour, I had my very own bottle of wine, which would be ready to drink after three months of resting in the bottle. And, surprisingly, I did feel a bit like a winemaker, with an improved vocabulary to match.

Custom-blended wines from the author, second from left, and other students at Conn Creek Winery. (Kristen Hartke)

It made me want to figure out how I could blend wine on my own turf.

Enter Blendtique, the brainchild of California winemaker Billy Dim, who will send you a box filled with all the tools to blend wine in the comfort of your own home, from the measuring pipette to four single-varietal wines that you can mix and match to your heart’s content.

“We wanted to demystify the winemaking experience,” says Dim, “and for people to feel comfortable. There are no right or wrong answers. If you like the result, then you’ve won.”

The provided wines — syrah, Grenache, cabernet and merlot from California’s central coast — are all meant to be approachable and less intimidating to average consumers. “The product that we like to put in our kits are great to drink on their own,” Dim says. “The fun is in how much the wine can change by putting in 10 or 15 or 20 percent of a different variety.”

A kit, of course, is not the only way to go. Because red wine grapes are typically blended more often than white, sommelier Sarah Young, who runs the wine-blending class at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Charleston, S.C., suggests picking up four or five single-varietal reds — such as cabernet, petite syrah, malbec, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot — for a homegrown blending experiment. A measuring cup and a set of wine glasses are the only equipment you need, plus maybe a plate of plain crackers to cleanse the palate between sips.

“With hundreds of possible blends that can be created, the options are endless,” says Young.

That has been my takeaway. While my previous notions of “wine blending” were limited to topping off my glass from a different bottle, I’ve now got a better idea of the flavors to be found in varietals from far-flung locations, and how my taste buds might react. Whether I’m mixing and matching at home or reading labels more carefully at the store, I’ve started to discover my inner sommelier.

3. Megas Oenos, 2016

This is a delicious, barrel-aged, juicy red with dark fruits, creamy oak characters, and plenty of fine, dry tannins to refresh the palate. In short, it’s an exciting alternative to the reds from the classic wine regions of the world, and perfect for cutting through the texture of steak, even if it’s more likely to be drunk with souvlaki.

  • The source: PGI Peloponnese, Greece
  • The grape(s): Agiorghitiko 80%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20%
  • Made by: Domaine Skouras
  • The price: £28-30
  • The medal: Gold – The Autumn Tasting, 2021


Wine has had a long history of being served as an accompaniment to food. The early history of wine has it origins as another dietary staple and a beverage that was often more sanitary than the local water supply. There is little evidence that much serious thought was given to pairing particular dishes to particular wines with most likely whatever wine was available being used. However, as culinary traditions in a region developed, so too did local winemaking tradition. [1]

Many pairings that are considered "classics" today emerged from the centuries-old relationship between a region's cuisine and their wines. In Europe, lamb was a staple meat of the diet for many areas that today are leading wine regions. The red wines of regions such as Bordeaux, Greece, Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rhone and Provence are considered classic pairings with the lamb dishes found in the local cuisines of those regions. In Italy, the intimate connection between food and wine is deeply embedded in the culture and is exemplified by the country's wine. Historically, Italians rarely dined without wine and a region's wine was crafted to be "food friendly", often with bright acidity. While some Italian wines may seem tannic, lean or tart by themselves they often will show a very different profile when paired with boldly flavored Italian foods. [3]

There have been some historical anecdotes that have related to food and wine pairing before modern times. One anecdote often attributed to British wine merchants is "Buy on an apple and sell on cheese" meaning that if a wine tastes good when paired with a raw, uncooked apple it must be truly good and pairing any wine with cheese will make it more palatable to the average consumer and easier to sell. The principles behind this anecdote lies in the food pairing properties of both fruit and cheeses. Fruits that are high in sugar and acidity (such as the malic acid in green apples) can make wines taste metallic and thin bodied. In contrast, hard cheeses such as cheddar can soften the tannins in wines and make them taste fuller and fruitier. [4]

Another historical anecdote, still repeated today, is "White wine with fish Red wine with meat". The root of this adage rests on the principle of matching the body (weight) of the wine with the weight of the food. Meat was generally heavier and "red" in color so it was assumed that a red wine (which was usually heavier than white wine) paired better. Similarly fish was generally light and "white" in color so it was often paired with white wine. This adage has become outdated somewhat due to the variety of wine styles prevalent in modern winemaking where there are now many "heavy" white wines such as "New World" oaky Chardonnay that can have more body than lighter reds such as Pinot noir or Italian Merlots. [5]

Another older idea was "to pair strong cheeses with strong wines," for example, asiago, a sharply flavored cheese, with Zinfandel, a dark red wine with fruit tones. [6]

Modern history Edit

In recent years, the popularity and interest in food and wine pairings have increased and taken on new connotations. Industries have sprung up with print publications and media dedicated to expounding on the principles and ideals of pairing the perfect wine with the perfect dish. In the restaurant industry, there is often a dedicated individual or staff of sommeliers who are trained to recommend wine pairings with the restaurant's fare. The origins of this recent phenomenon can be traced to the United States in the 1980s when the wine industry began to advertise wine-drinking as a component of dining rather than as just an alcoholic beverage meant for consumption and intoxication. Winemakers started to emphasize the kind of food dishes that their wines would go well with, some even printing pairing suggestions on back wine labels. Food magazines began to suggest particular wines with recipes and restaurants would offer multi-course dinners matched with a specific wine for each course. [1]

Today there are multiple sources for detailed guidelines and tips on food and wine pairing. But many wine drinkers select wine pairings based on instinct, the mood of the meal or simply a desire to drink a particular wine at the moment they desire to eat a particular meal. [1] The subjective nature of taste makes it possible to drink any kind of wine with any kind of food and have an enjoyable experience. Wine expert Mark Oldman has noted "Food and wine pairing can be like sex and pizza: even when it's bad, it can still be pretty good" and gives the example of wedding cake with a dry sparkling wine. A very dry wine with a very sweet food is, according to Oldman, "the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard" and is not a "good pairing" according to most guidelines but the atmosphere of the occasion and the subjective nature of taste can trump any rule or guideline. [2] Today, many wine experts and advocates in the realm of food and wine pairing try to focus on the more objective physical aspects of food that have an effect on the palate, altering (or enhancing) the perception of various aspects of the wine. [4]

In food and wine pairings, the most basic element considered is "weight"-the balance between the weight of the food (a heavy, red sauce pasta versus a more delicate salad) and the weight or "body" of the wine (a heavy Cabernet Sauvignon versus a more delicate Pinot grigio). In wine tasting, body is determined primarily by the alcohol level of the wine and can be influenced by the perceptions of tannins (from the grape skins or oak) and extract (the dissolved solids in the wine derived from winemaking processes like extended maceration and sur lie aging). An oaked Chardonnay from a warm wine region, such as Australia will be "heavier" in body than a stainless steel fermented Chardonnay from a cooler wine region such as Chablis. Pairing heavy wines with light dishes or vice versa, can result in one partner overwhelming the other. [7] The "weight" of a food can also be described in terms of the intensity of its flavors-such as delicate and more subtle flavors versus dishes that have more robust and hearty flavors. [1] A key to pairing upon this principle is to identify the dominant flavor of the dish. Sauces can be the dominant flavor instead of the meat or main component. While poached fish is usually light bodied and better served with a light white, if the fish is served with a heavy cream sauce it could be better balanced with a fuller bodied white wine or light red. [2]

Weights of wine Edit

Below is a rough guideline of the various weights of wines. Winemaker and regional style as well as oak treatment can cause a wine to be lighter or heavier in body. For example, Pinot noir can vary from being very light to more medium bodied. Another example is the influence of regional climates. Warmer climate wine regions tend to produce wines with higher alcohol levels and thus more fuller bodied wines so that a Sauvignon blanc from California may have a heavier weight than a Sauvignon blanc from the Loire. [2]

Lighter whites
Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Chablis, Champagne and sparkling wines, Gruner Veltliner, Vinho Verde

Medium to heavy whites
Oaked Sauvignon blanc, Alsatian wines, Albarino, White Bordeaux (Semillon), White Burgundy, Rhone whites (Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne), Tămâioasă Românească and New World Chardonnay

Lighter reds
Beaujolais, Dolcetto, some Pinot noir

Focus of the pairing Edit

While a perfect balance where both food and wine are equally enhanced is theoretically possible, typically a pairing will have a more enhancing influence on one or the other. Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein notes that food and wine pairing is like two people having a conversation: "One must listen while the other speaks or the result is a muddle". This means either the food or the wine will be the dominant focus of the pairing, with the other serving as a complement to enhance the enjoyment of the first. In regards to weight and intensity, if the focus of the pairing is the wine then a more ideal balance will be a food that is slightly lighter in weight to where it will not compete for attention with the wine but not too light to where it is completely overwhelmed. If the focus of the pairing is to

After considering weight, pairing the flavors and texture can be dealt with using one of two main strategies — complement or contrast.

The first strategy tries to bring wine together with dishes that complement each other such as an earthy, Burgundian Pinot noir with an earthy, mushroom dish.

The second strategy operates under the truism that "opposites attract" and brings together food and wine that have contrasting traits such as a crisp, acidic Sauvignon blanc and a fish with a creamy lemon sauce. The crisp acidity of the wine serves as a contrast that can cut through the creaminess of the sauce and give a different, refreshing sensation for the palate as opposed to what a complementary pairing, such as a creamy, buttery Chardonnay, would bring. For most of history, the "complementary strategy" was the prevailing thought on food and wine pairing. In the 1980s, as more people started to discover and experiment with pairings, the idea of using contrast started to gain more favor. It follows the same idea that the "salty/sweet" pairing does in cooking (such as salty peanut butter with sweet jelly). [7]

The same food may be complemented or contrasted: a hard, nutty cheese such as Hirtenkase should have "a nutty, slightly sweet wine with it," [8] or a full bodied red wine. [ unreliable source? ] [9]

While it is often said that "taste is subjective", there are quantifiable taste characteristics (like bitter, sweet, salty or sour) that can be perceived and measured as low, moderate or high—such as measuring the sweetness of honey or the saltiness of oysters. Flavors, such as butterscotch, char and strawberry, are more personal and can't be quantifiable. Flavors are either perceived to be present or not. The perception of flavors is linked to our sense of smell, while tastes come from the sensory glands of the taste buds. Though individual sensitivity to the different taste "senses" can vary, wine experts will often recommend pairings based on these more objective measurements rather than the more subjective concept of "flavors". In wine there are three basic tastes-bitter, sweet and sour. These three tastes can each be identified with a primary component of the wine-tannins (bitter), residual sugar (sweet) and acidity (sour). A fourth component, alcohol, is identified in wine tasting with a perception of "heat" or hotness in the back of the mouth and is the primary factor influencing the body of the wine. The residual heat of the alcohol can be considered in food pairing with some ingredients minimizing the heat of the wine while some will accentuate it. [7]

Acidity Edit

Acidity is a dominant player in any food and wine pairing due to the pronounced and complex ways that it can heighten the perception of flavors. In wine tasting, acidity is perceived by a mouth watering response by the salivary glands. This mouth watering can also serve to stimulate the appetite. In wine there are three main acids that have their own associated flavors-malic (green apples), lactic (milky) and tartaric (bitter). In dishes that are fatty, oily, rich or salty, acidity in wine can "cut" (or standout and contrast) through the heaviness and be a refreshing change of pace on the palate. In cooking, acidity is often used in similar fashions such as a lemon wedges with a briny seafood dish such as oysters. The acidity of the lemon juices can make the oysters seem less briny. A wine that is less tart than the dish it is served with will taste thin and weak. A wine that comes across as "too tart" on its own may seem softer when paired with an acidic and tart dish. The complementing "tartness" of the food and wine cancels each other out and allows the other components (fruit of the wine, other flavors of the food) to be more noticeable. [7]

Sweetness Edit

The sweetness of wines is determined by the amount of residual sugar left in the wine after the fermentation process. Wines can be bone dry (with the sugars fully fermented into alcohol), off-dry (with a hint of sweetness), semi-dry (medium-sweet) and dessert level sweetness (such as the high sugar content in Sauternes and Tokays). Sweet wines often need to be sweeter than the dish they are served with. Vintage brut champagne paired with sweet, wedding cake can make the wine taste tart and weak while the cake will have off flavors. In food pairings, sweetness balances spice and heat. It can serve as a contrast to the heat and alleviate some of the burning sensation caused by peppers and spices, e.g. in Thai or Sichuan cuisine. [7] It can accentuate the mild sweetness in some foods and can also contrast with salt such as the European custom of pairing salty Stilton cheese with a sweet Port. [1] Sweetness in a wine can balance tartness in food, especially if the food has some sweetness (such as dishes with sweet & sour sauces). [2]

Bitterness Edit

The astringency [10] associated with wine is usually derived from a wine's tannins. Tannins add a gritty texture and chalky, astringent taste. It can enhance the perception of "body" or weight in the wine. Tannins are normally derived from the skins, seeds, and stems of the grapes themselves (leached out during the maceration process) or from contact with oak during barrel aging. Tannins react with proteins. When paired with dishes that are high in proteins and fats (such as red meat and hard cheeses), the tannins will bind to the proteins and come across as softer. In the absence of protein from the food, such as some vegetarian dishes, the tannins will react with the proteins on the tongue and sides of the mouth—accentuating the astringency and having a drying effect on the palate. Various cooking methods, such as grilling and blackening can add a bitter "char" component to the dish that will allow it to play well with a tannic wine, while fish oils can make tannic wines taste metallic or off. [7] Astringent tannic wines like Barolo and Cabernet Sauvignon can overwhelm a lot of foods but can be softened by fatty foods with a lot of proteins such as hard cheeses or meats. The dry tannins also serve as a cleansing agent on the palate by binding to the grease and oils left over in the mouth. Spicy and sweet foods can accentuate the dry, bitterness of tannins and make the wine seem to have off flavors. [2]

Alcohol Edit

Alcohol is the primary factor in dictating a wine's weight and body. Typically the higher the alcohol level, the more weight the wine has. An increase in alcohol content will increase the perception of density and texture. In food and wine pairing, salt and spicy heat will accentuate the alcohol and the perception of "heat" or hotness in the mouth. [7] Conversely, the alcohol can also magnify the heat of spicy food making a highly alcoholic wine paired with a very spicy dish one that will generate a lot of heat for the taster. [2]

Beyond the basic guidelines listed above, food pairings can dive even further into matching several layers of texture and flavors. The term "bridge ingredients" refers to ingredients and flavors that have certain affinities in wine pairing (such as slow-cooked onions with creamy wines, etc.). It can also refer to using particular herbs and spices perceived in the wine (such as rosemary in some Cabernet Sauvignon) and adding them to the dish as an ingredient. Their presence in a dish may increase the likelihood that the certain wines will pair well. [7]

The above principles can be used for pairing wines with Asian cuisine. Pair for the flavor of the dish - whatever the 'main ingredient' may be - it is not the meat, seafood, or vegetables that stand out as the predominant flavor. Rather the true flavor of the dish is determined by the cooking method (for example, the toasty flavors of a stir fry), the sauce (from curries to sweet-and-sour), the use of seasonings (such as ginger and coriander leaves to mask fishy tastes), or the blending of ingredients to form new flavors (as in sukiyaki or satay). Indeed, it may result from a combination of any of these elements. Also, note that in the case of an Asian meal, several dishes are served at the same time and are shared by everyone present. The wine chosen for such a meal has to be versatile. [11]

9. Enjoy the Party

It's important to manage the flow of the party. You can plan to taste multiple wines in a sitting so your guests can make direct comparisons, or you can intersperse tasting individual wines among activities. A sample schedule for a party might include the following:

  • 7 to 8 PM - Arrival, apéritif, and light hors d'oeuvres or finger foods
  • 8 to 9 PM - Wine tasting either with wines by themselves or wine and food pairings. Plan to pour a wine every 15 to 20 minutes or so. As you pour the wines, if you're not blind tasting, offer some basic information about the wine, allow guests to look at the labels, etc.
  • 9 PM - 11:30 PM - Serve food, dinner, hors d'oeuvres, etc. with additional wines and engage in any activities such as trivia or games, etc.

18 Types of Wine Glasses to Store in Your China Cabinet

Make the right moves at your next wine tasting with with all the right stemware and tumblers.

Have you ever wondered why the same model and make of wine you drink at home tastes so much better at a restaurant? Sure, it could be that the food is better (it is prepared by a chef, after all ), and therefore, the wine really flourishes when paired with non-frozen entrees. But the shape of your so-called &ldquowine glass&rdquo could also be the problem, and that some experts say pairing the shape of your glass with the right variety of wine is key to an overall wine-tasting experience. Having the right vessel&mdashmeaning the size, shape, and opening&mdashcan really maximize flavor. We've got the skinny on 18 different wine glasses for every kind of wine, which means you've got more time to focus on making cheese and planning your next vacation to the wine country.

We're not generally a fan of "less is more" when it comes to wine, but in the case of this wine glass, the smaller the lesser the pour, the more fragrant the wine. The wide bowl at the bottom allows wine to breathe properly, while the narrow mouth at the top captures the aroma.

Who doesn't love delicate red wines like a Pinot Noir, Italian Barolo, and Barbaresco? They're even better in these bigger bowled glasses, which enhance the acidity and intensity of medium to full-bodied wines.

This tall broad glass is designed for bolder, full-bodied red wines like a Cabernet or an Alicante Bouschet. Its large bowl directs the wine to the back of your mouth, and the shape of the glass is designed to help younger wines breathe.

Okay, this one is kind of a joke, but Mason jars aren't just for canning and crafting! Trade out the muscadine jelly for muscadine wine in this charming glassware that's made for watching a sunset on the front porch.

With a smaller bowl than the Cabernet and the Bordeaux glasses, the shape of a Zinfandel wine glass brings out the wine's rich bouquet of berry and spice nuances. A thin rim directs the flow of the wine to the center of the tongue, allowing you to encounter the complex balance of tannins, acidity, and fruit flavors.

Pucker up! The turned-out flared lip of the glass directs fruity, sweet, and crisp wines to the front of the palate. Have fun showing off your swirling skills in this large-bowled model.

Que sera Syra&mdashwhatever will be, will be great thanks to this glass, which brings out the silky, velvety structure and balanced flavors of a nice Syrah.

Sip Rosé all day in these long-stemmed glasses, which provide consistency in temperature. For a more mature wine, try a short-tapered Rosé glass.

Don't let your sparkling wine or Champagne fall flat with the wrong-shaped glass. These flutes are designed with an upright shape, which helps maintain carbonation. For a more modern affair, go with a stemless selection like this gold number.

A crisp, cold chardonnay is best enjoyed in a u-shaped bowl that's somewhat upright. A slightly larger opening will allow the wine to flow to the sides and tip of your tongue.

Can you sip any kind of wine out of this sophisticated wine glass? You sure can. But it's best paired with aromatic, citrus-filled, crisp white wines.

A shorter version of a Bordeaux wine glass, this elegant glass will allow you to enjoy the aroma of a sweet dessert or port wine.

If you're looking to infuse some oxygen into your wine of choice, this glass is for you. While the shape doesn't necessarily enhance or improve the flavor profile, its elegance can certainly elevate the occasion. And you can't beat them when it comes time to construct a Champagne pyramid.

This all-purpose wine tumbler can be stored in your fridge or freezer so that you can better enjoy any wine that's best served cold&mdasheven on hot summer days.

So long, decanter! When you're short on time and elbow room, this stemless aerating glass releases a vintage wine's full potential of flavors and aromas.

If you're a bit of a clumsy sort, stemless is the right way to go. Not only are the hazards of knocking it over lessened, they're also easier to wash. A note: It's harder to regulate the temperature of your wine in stemless glasses, so you may be tempted to drink a little faster.


  1. Vudorisar

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