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Which Wine?

What type of wine goes better with smoked salmon? A German Reisling or California Chardonnay? What if you're serving filet mignon? For being one of life's luxuries, wine can cause a lot of consternation. One wine might compliment a savory meal, while another leaves a bad taste on your palette. Luckily there are a few basic guidelines to wine pairing that will make all your meals delicious.

It is important to keep in mind that there are no fixed rules to wine pairing. "You should review the old guidelines and see what makes sense for you," said Mark Gruber, a wine consultant and wine class instructor, from Evanston, Ill. "Then try what you like. I'm a firm believer in experimentation."

What matters most is that you enjoy both flavors together. For wine pairing ideas visit the resources below.

Pairing guides

  • DrinkWine
    DrinkWine.com offers some basic guidelines on pairing food and wine.

  • Wine Spectator
    Learn how to pair foods and wines based on weight. The simple match suggestions will give you guaranteed gastronomic delight.




  • Wine Lover's Page
    Use the A to Z guide of meals to find matching wines. This guide also explains basic principles of matching wine with ethnic foods.

  • Epicurious
    The gourmet site offers not only wine and cheese pairings, but also recipes using wine. A bit of red wine will give your tomato sauce an extra kick, while a few drops of champagne will add flavor to a fruit cobbler.

  • Wineanswers.com
    What can you pair with your pad thai? Wineanswers.com gives suggestions for Thai and other ethnic foods.

Menu Suggestions

The safest pairing rule is "white with fish, red with meat." But don't let this rule stop you from making different combinations. This Food Network article explains other basic principles, such as pairing sweet wines with sweet food and acidic wines with sour flavors, and how to pair food with champagne.

Gruber recommends an aperitif (either a dry white wine or brut champagne) before the meal. "These drinks will get your gastric juices flowing and tell your stomach that you're hungry," he said. Here are some simple suggestions to get your menu started.

  • Quiche Lorraine with Pinot Noir
  • Smoked salmon with French Beaujolais
  • Cesar salad with Sauvignon Blanc
  • Sautéed mushrooms with sparkling wine
  • Grilled chicken and vegetables with Merlot
  • Fish with cream sauce paired with Chardonnay
  • Steak or roast with Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Apple tart with Bordeaux White
If you don't remember any of these rules while shopping for wine, don't despair. "Wines made in the U.S. generally have a back label that makes food recommendations," Gruber said. "And if you go to a wine shop, never hesitate to ask the staff for help."

Gruber also recommends "Hugh Johnson's Pocket Encyclopedia of Wine" for further wine and food pairing suggestions. To learn more about types of wine, labels and more, see GourmetSpot's Wine page.




   --- J. Britten

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