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A Beginners Guide to Picking the Perfect Wine for any Occasion
Picking the perfect wine does not need to be a matter for "experts." It does not necessarily require an extensive collection, great knowledge of the highest quality aged wines, or a great deal of money. The most important aspects to choosing the best wine for any given occasion including knowing the setting, knowing the tastes of the people involved, and having a rudimentary understanding of wine pairing.
When testing a wine, it is important to smell first, especially when planning to pair wine with food. The scent will yield awareness of the subtleties of flavor often providing an instant mental connection between the smell and foods that will taste good with it. If tasting the wine first, these dimensions of flavor will likely be missed but when paired with the right food; indeed both the food and the wine will enhance each other.
Flavor balance is key to making a good match, so rich and heavy foods usually demand a rich and heavy wine in order to ensure that the flavor of neither is lost. Red wines tend to be among the strongest in flavor, however many red wines are also very sweet. As such, red wine pairs excellently with pastas topped with acidic tomato-based sauces such as marinara. They work especially well with beef, strong cheeses, and deep-fried dishes. Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most widely available and popular choices for these food pairings. Port wine is also a good choice for cheeses as well as desserts. Its extra strength and sweetness is wonderful with strong, dark chocolate.
White wines, conversely, are great fits for light meals. Grilled meats, seafood, and salads work well with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, among many other great white wine options. The delicacy of both the food and the wine bind together to help create a perfect meal and evening that is elegant, flavorsome, and healthy.
Champagne and other sparkling wines can be great choices for seafood, poultry, appetizers, Asian foods, and desserts. Sushi and dry sparkling wines, for example, heighten the taste sensations of each other. Champagne is the New Year's Eve wine not merely because of its cultural significance for celebratory purposes, but because of its spectacular taste when paired with appetizers and desserts, therefore complementing other traditions of the holiday.
Just as Champagne is ideal for New Year's Eve, other holiday settings carry with them the opportunity to pick the perfect wine to suit the occasion. American Thanksgivings tend to be fairly similar in the types of food served and in the tradition of all-day eating. As such, Chablis is a great choice for the light appetizers that help prepare for the coming feast. It works wonderfully with vegetables, cheeses, and all types of savory foods that are not too heavy. Like the appetizers, Chablis helps prepare the palate for the heavier fare to come. When it is time for the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yams, and green bean casserole Pinot Noir meets the richness and indulgence of the feast. The smoothness of cream sherry makes it an ideal paring for pumpkin pie. Sipping these different wines throughout the day encourages even more enjoyment of the wonderful Thanksgiving food.
While food traditions are much more various for Christmas than they are for Thanksgiving, something rich and meaty is usually called for. Therefore, strong and sweet Italian red wines are a good fit for many Christmas traditions.
Whether planning for a holiday, a family reunion, a business gathering, a romantic evening, or any other occasion, picking the perfect wine is a possibility. Enjoy a night out at Farraddays or Bragozzo and allow our experts to assist you in picking out best wine to complement your meal.
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