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Need a Versatile Wine for Your Dinner?
As any wine lover will tell you, deciding what wine(s) to pair with your food can be just as challenging as choosing the foods themselves. To help ease that stressful burden, below are some wines that offer a tremendous amount of versatility and can be relied upon as your go-to cellar stuffers. Items that you can keep on hand, pull from the rack, pop the cork and know that you'll be getting a close-to-perfect compliment for whatever your menu might look like.
Before we get into specifics, some baseline stuff to consider. Tradition tells us that you should serve white wine with lighter foods and red with your heavier dishes. Here's a better idea: forego the traditions and drink what you like. Do you like Cabernet with sushi, or Trockenbeerenauslese with a grilled ribeye? They both sound super gross to me, but whatever floats your boat! What you choose to pair with your food is 100% on you, and below are some ideas for those looking for wines that can play a utility position for food pairings.
On the white side, try to stay away from items that lean too heavy on oak or searing acidity. A cooler climate Chardonnay (White Burgundy, Sonoma, or even New Zealand - yes, they make other whites than Sauvignon Blanc!) would work for a roast chicken dish, a piece of mild white fish, or even a leaner cut of red meat. Gruner Veltliner is also another really awesome option for a white when you tend to gravitate towards a leaner, lighter style of white. The acidity and minerality in Gruner pairs perfectly with salads, shellfish, and dishes with loads of spices and complexity - Indian, Southeast Asian, and African cuisines all come to mind here.
For your dinners when pizza, pasta, or meatloaf and potatoes are on the docket, a safe play is always a Tuscan red - Rosso di Montalcino, a Morellino di Scansano from Maremma, or the tried-and-true standby Chianti Classico. All three are Sangiovese based wines, and all three pack tremendous versatility for cuisine and can stand alone as a simple aperitif as you patiently wait for Sunday's gravy to come together. Want something with more body to stand up to your steak frites or bolognese? Find a Mencia from Spain and indulge in its utter deliciousness; the tannins are present but soft, and the value they provide is something that will make you smile ear-to-ear as you digest your meal.
We can end on this... Champagne. Or any Sparkling wine, for that matter, is a grossly underrated (and underutilized) category for food pairings. They go with virtually EVERY dish you could possibly imagine - almost to the point of being annoyingly perfect matches for all foods. Don't believe it? Pop open a bottle of bubbly the next time you're searing your filet of beef... you can thank us later.
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