Wine has a rich history dating back to around 6000 BC and is thought to have originated in areas now within the borders of Georgia and Iran. Through religious and non-religious usages, wine is considered to be an essential beverage that accompanies and enhances a wide range of European and Mediterranean-style cuisines, from the simple and traditional to the most sophisticated and complex. With a plethora of different wines, it comes as no surprise why many are perplexed as to which wines are used for a particular occasion. Well the answer is simply that there are really no hard and fast rules when choosing the best wine for each occasion. Especially when you consider the fact that people are partial to certain wines depending on their personal preference and taste.
Despite this fact, we list a few “soft” guidelines to help you choose the right wine for the right occasion. This will at least give you a good idea on how to complement an occasion, and certain dishes with the right kind of wine.
White wines being lighter and drier than red wines are best served during the earlier part of the evening, or before the main course as white wine has a light, fresh flavour that won’t interfere with the main dish. Chardonnay, having wide appeal among most wine connoisseurs, is also perfect for serving along with rich tasting courses, especially those that have creamy sauces. Sauvignon Blanc, while not as dry as Chardonnay, still makes excellent company with salads, shrimp, and fish due to its fruity nature.
White wines are perfect for starting off an evening on the right foot, and are also wonderful for toasts and special occasions. However, the more common toasting wine for weddings and anniversaries is of course the more elegant choice of Champagne.
Red wines are great for main courses and are typically served during the latter part of any occasion. Their full bodied nature makes them a great complement to hearty meals and can actually help to enhance the dinner. If you are looking for the wine that is most certain to please the most people, go for Merlot. It has a balanced mix of body and lightness that make it the perfect choice for most dishes. It particularly does well with poultry, pork and lamb.
The scintillating aroma of plum, vanilla and blackberry make Pinot Noir an intriguing proposition during special occasions. It is not as heralded as Merlot or Cabernet, so many people may not recognize its unique blend. It goes well with creamy sauces.
For spicy foods, Shiraz is a fiery complement. It has a peppery taste that will greatly enhance the flavour in barbecues, roasts, and chili or spicy dishes.
For a hearty, full taste, look no further than Chianti. Chianti is the best wine to accompany tomato dishes (Italian) and poultry. With its rich flavour and deep red colour, it blends easily with ravioli and pizza. When you finish the wine, the beautiful raffia wrapped bottles make great candle holders and set the mood for the night ahead. It is wonderfully versatile in having varied range in price and quality.
And finally, a robust Burgundy would be the red to choose for a fine standing rib roast or delicate filet mignon.
Your main concern when serving your friends a fine meal is that they are happy and enjoying the dinner. Everyone will have their own opinions of what is a good wine. Thus, it might be a good idea if you prepare servings of both red and white wine, and have your guests sample which they would have for the rest of the evening. In most cases, your guests will choose their drinks early on and keep them until the end of the occasion.
With these guidelines in mind, the right wine can truly elevate your food (and occasion) to the next level. Santé!