When pairing wines with food, you can take two approaches: Match the wine to the food’s body and flavors or use the wine to clean your palate. For example, match the lemony acid of sauvignon blanc with fish or raw oysters (something you would add lemon to anyway) or pair it with a cream sauce on fettuccine to complement the dish and clean your palate between bites. It’s that simple. Big red wines are high in alcohol and acids, so they work with fat and protein—meaning a steak or its siblings. The wines that throw most people off are low-alcohol, low-acid wines, such as riesling, which pairs with spicy foods. A big cabernet or Cotes du Rhone will just fuel the fire.
Available at Haskell’s Wines and Spirits; multiple Twin Cities locations.
Domaine Gerard Millet Sancerre 2004 (Loire Valley, France), $17.99
Sancerre, like Pouilly-Fume, is always 100 percent sauvignon blanc.
This is a beautiful wine. Crisp, lemony, with clean acids and a touch of mineral. Pair it with fish or oysters or, as a palate cleanser, with a cream sauce.
Schloss Schonborn Kabinett 2003 (Germany), $16.99
Honey nose with apple and pear and a rich finish. This wine would match perfectly with spicy Thai food or hot curry. Try it with dessert and pair with warm apple crisp or caramel.
Domaine de la Vougeraie Pommard 2002 (Burgundy), $49.99
Pinot noir—the only red grape grown in Pommard.
Pinot noir at its best. This is an amazing wine and a real treat. It has it all—fruit, full body, and deep complexity. The dark ruby color and deep blackberry-and-licorice nose come together nicely in the glass. Try this wine with any lamb dish, duck, or a classic coq au vin. This wine would be even better after another five years in the cellar.
Ferrari–Carano Siena 2003 (Sonoma), $29.99
Blends sangiovese, malbec, cabernet sauvignon.
This big red is ready to drink now, but it still needs a steak! It’s full-bodied, deep, has bright berry flavor with a hint of cedar, and is complex, approachable, and balanced. Though not too tannic, it’s a bit much to drink on its own. Enjoy it with a rib eye or stinky cheese.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at email@example.com