Selecting wine can make us a nervous bunch. Throw food into the equation and we become even more insecure! Truth is, there are no hard and fast rules for food and wine pairing no matter what you’ve heard in the past. But there are some wine styles that more versatile than others and knowing them will make your wine confidence soar! Here is your P.A.S.S. to food-friendly wines!
Pinot Noir is one of the world’s most versatile, food-friendly red wines. Its red fruit flavors of strawberry, cherry, and raspberry combined with warm spice and earth undertones make it an excellent partner to almost any dish. The world famous grape originally hailing from Burgundy, France, Pinot Noir makes light to medium-bodied wines with low tannin. More recently, lovely Pinots can be found from Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Sonoma, California. Red wine drinkers love its complex flavor profile, but it’s also my “go-to” choice for white wine drinkers trying to transition to reds. Its lighter mouth-feel and refreshing acidity will showcase your salmon, chicken, or red meat entrée without upstaging it. Try Argyle Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley (about $23, Morganelli’s) to compliment your next meal.
Wines with a higher level of acidity are also a dependable category of food pairing partners. These wines exhibit crisp, refreshing, or lively qualities that are palate cleansing and complimentary. While some red wines--like Pinot Noir--do have higher acid levels, your safest bet will popular white wines from cooler climates of the Old World. Chablis (Chardonnay), Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc), or an Alsatian Riesling are the standard bearers. For an exciting option try the vibrant Pazo Cilleiro from Rias Biaxas, Spain (about $18, Morganelli’s). Like all Albariños from this region, it’s a textbook example of an acid-driven wine and will compliment appetizers to white meat entrees.
Celebrate the fact that sparkling wines should be your next meal mate! Let’s dispel the myth that we should be storing our bubbles for special occasions and drink them with everything from starters to fried chicken. Sparkling wines are the most technical to produce but go with a remarkable range of food due to their effervescence and--you guessed it--higher acidity. Zestier sparklers such as non-vintage Champagne (brut or rosé) or Prosecco from the Valdobbiadene region of Italy also display a distinct minerality that adds depth to fruity, savory, and gamy flavors. For a resplendent Cava that you’ll want to enjoy with your popcorn, try Reventos Blanc de La Finca from Spain (about $29, Morganelli’s).
Unfortunately the wine that is most misunderstood is truly a wine we need to be enjoying with more of our meals. Sherry is one of the world’s greatest wines, and, like Champagne, is painstaking to make but also extremely versatile. Forget your grandmother’s syrupy sweet version and discover “fino” or “manzanilla” sherries from Jerez, Spain. Made from the Palomino grape, these sherries are lighter, drier and display a salinity that will showcase tapas, seafood, and heartier dishes. Try Lustau Jarano Fino Sherry (about $18, Morganelli’s) for delicious partner to your appetizers, sushi, or salty snacks. Best enjoyed well-chilled in a standard wine glass, this crisp, floral, and nutty wine will prove that sherry needs to be in your line-up of food-friendly wines.
Drinking Champagne with popcorn and bringing sherry back, Erlinda wants to help you be more confident in your enjoyment of wine. P.A.S.S. her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.thevinicola.com, Instagram (@thevinicola), or Facebook (theViniCola) to join Columbia’s wine community.