Gourmet food with wine

Food & Wine Pairings

Over my years of eating food and drinking wine, I’ve taken for granted that the selection of the perfect wine with the perfect food comes fairly easy to me. It’s common sense! Not really. I realized that not everyone is as comfortable with this topic and can get frustrated and or embarrassed when it comes to selecting the wine when you are out with friends at Chateau Wine Snob Eatery.

It’s unfortunate that some wait staff find this very amusing. I guess they forget that when the check is due, you are then totally in control of the pen that enters the amount on the TIP line. You also have direct control of telling your friends how wonderfully you were treated at Chateau Wine Snob Eatery.  That’s a double WHAM! Fortunately for us, those places and people don’t last very long in this industry.

Most restaurants have educated people that are more than willing to help you with your selections. The best approach is to ask, “What would you suggest I try with this entree?” or “Looking at your wine selection, I’m thinking about something in this price range, what would you suggest?”

Then, of course, there is the basic wine law that dictates that you should always order white wine with chicken, turkey or fish (what about the other white meat, pork? hmmm) and red wine is always to be served with red meat.

This wine law has kept many a person from ordering the wine they would have most enjoyed. So, forget that law! Let’s just focus on what we like, experiment a little bit, and have some fun and enjoy ourselves.

Generally, I choose a wine before I select what I’m going to eat. This way I get the flavor of the wine taking me in the direction of the foods I will prepare or order and it sets the mood for the evening. A little more creativity in the preparation begins to happen or a little more curiosity of how that item on the menu would taste with this wine. Don’t be afraid to experiment. After all what’s the worst that could happen?

What has worked well for me is to determine the weight of the food; by that I mean, is it a hearty, heavy food or is it light. The heartier the meal, the heavier the wine should be and likewise the lighter the meal, the lighter the wine should be.

So, on the red side, the lightest to heaviest would be Valpolicella, Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Chianti, Barolo, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet and then Rhone or Syrah.

On the white side, it would be Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Chablis, un-oaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer and then barrel aged Chardonnay. Using this common sense approach should make the selection process more comfortable.

Live Life, Enjoy!

Ric Reed
Ric Reed

Ric is the owner of Ric’s Wine Market in Lakeland, Florida. He was first introduced to wine as an assistant buyer for a specialty gourmet foods and wine store. To support his indulgences he opened Ric’s Wine Market. Look here for his column, Wine 101, where Ric will dive into the nuances of the world of wine. To learn more about Rick and Ric’s Wine Market, click on the link below.

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