Wine Pairings for Dinner Parties

Hosting a dinner party always brings about the mixed feelings of pleasure and terror—pleasure at the prospect of enjoying food and drinks with your family and friends, and terror at having to ensure everything goes to plan. One thing you shouldn’t worry about is deciding what types of wine to serve alongside the various courses of your meal, as choosing the right bottle to match your food is a simple as taking a browse through this featured guide.

So let’s get started with the first course!

1. Appetizers

Most people believe that it’s a staple to serve white wine before the main course, but your selection very much depends on what food you happen to be putting on the table. If you’re serving a traditional antipasto mix, than you will want to stick with a refreshing white like a Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc, same as you would if serving a smoked tuna or salmon. For anything heavier, like a beef Carpaccio, choose a drier red wine, like a Barbera, or any type of Rône blend.

2. Meat

For most heavier types of meat—steak, different types of game like venison and hare—you’ll want to stick with a bolder tasting red, so the flavors of the dish don’t overwhelm the wine. Cabernets, Chiantis, and Malbecs are great options, and are all grapes that have been made famous from regions like Tuscany and Argentina which are famous for their meats.

3. Fish

When serving fish break out a bottle of white. For flakier fish consider a White Bordeaux, a Sauvignon Blanc, or a dry Riesling. Meatier and stronger tasting fishes are better paired with oakier flavors such as Oaked Chardonnay, Viognier, Cremant de Bourgogne, or even a Moet and Chandon Champagne which you can pick up for reasonable price at retailers like Tesco for my UK friends or grocery stores/wine shops here in the US.

4. Poultry

Poultry may present the most versatile option of a food/wine pairing, as the type of poultry and the way the dish is presented will dictate what bottle is best to serve alongside it. White Côtes du Rhône, Chenin Blanc, Brachetto, Grenache are all great options. If you’ve been looking for a chance to pair a favorite Rosé than here’s your opportunity, though try and stick with something on the drier side.

5. Vegetarian

Vegetarian dishes are another example of the “one kind of wine” myth. Most people tend to think that roasted veggies and tofu have to be paired with a white, but this is far from the truth. Like with meats, you pair stronger flavors with stronger wines, so mushroom based dishes, stews, curries and spicier meals all go really well with reds. For whites, salads, light pastas, tagines and nut based dishes make the best pairings.

6. Desserts

Traditionally you would head straight for the vintage Port, and to this day a good bottle is still a great way to end your meal. But, there are also other options on the table. A drizzle of white Port on sorbet is a great dessert, and a sweet glass of sparkling Moscato is not a bad choice either.

Whatever you decide to serve-up at your next dinner party, we hope this guide helps you narrow down your wine list to a few choice selections so you can impress your guests. Good luck, and happy drinking!

Image by Wojtek Szkutnik used under the Creative Commons license.

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