Food and wine are a big part of every holiday celebration, not just in the traditional sense. From the Christmas roast to the NYE champagne toast, wine and food are integral to the festivities. But for many people, when it comes time to plan their party, it can be hard to know where to start with all the choices. With food trends constantly evolving and wine becoming more available than ever, planning your menu can be confusing enough without worrying about what wines go with what dishes.
1. Choose well-seasoned food and wine
Many people assume that fancy food automatically goes with fancy wine, but it’s essential to know that just because a dish is elaborate, it doesn’t mean the wine has to be. A simple word of grilled chicken and roasted vegetables can pair nicely with an aromatic, juicy wine. At the same time, a mouthwatering plate of spicy Cajun shrimp and grits will be complemented by a dry white with loads of acidity to help clear the spices from your palate.
2. More alcohol for more decadent dishes
If you’re thinking about serving a bottle of wine, try it with a meal that contains more than one component. You’ll want to choose a wine with a higher alcohol content so it can stand up to the meal and still taste balanced. But don’t overdo it either; you don’t want to find yourself picking out the cooked veggies from your teeth while taking a sip of that 2010 Barolo!
3. Serve at their optimum temperatures
Different wines pair better with certain foods at different temperatures. The old rule was that red wines should be served at 65 degrees and whites at 55 degrees. But modern science has shown that this is not always the case, and many temperature ranges produce different results. Even a few degrees can change how the acidity levels of wine interact with your taste buds, so keep this in mind as you plan.
4. Stock your cellar before the holidays
Over a year, you’re likely to find yourself wanting to try a variety of wines. But with such a wide range of options, it can be hard to decide what exactly you want. Chances are high that whenever there is an occasion for wine, you’ll find yourself standing in front of that old dusty bottle looking for inspiration or buying another bottle of what’s already open. One way to avoid this problem is by shopping at least six months ahead of time.
5. Choose from different regions
When hosting a small holiday get-together, a wine-by-the-glass or bottle is often all you need. But if you’re planning something more significant and want to showcase different wines from different regions, go beyond the wine storage rack and browse your local wine catalog. You’ll find that there are significant differences in the wines produced in different areas around the world, and these can play an important role in matching flavors and pairings.
6. Lighten up with whites and reds
There is nothing wrong with serving whites and reds with seasonal fruit or a piece of fruitcake. But don’t go overboard; remember to respect the flavors in the wine itself by only adding something that complements it. You don’t want to drown out the flavors in the wine with sweetness or overwhelm it with acidity.
7. Try a newer, trendy wine with bold flavors
With all the buzz around wine and food pairings, more people are looking to experiment with the new and different flavors that can come from wines that are not necessarily the most common at their local liquor stores. And although these types of wines may work better than others, you could also find yourself out of luck when trying to find a match for your meal. Keep this in mind as you choose your wine.
8. Matching wines with dishes is an art form
A dish’s flavor profile may be very distinct, but it can still be challenging to know exactly what wine tastes best with it. Don’t worry. Instead of waiting for a wine expert to give you suggestions, think about what you’re eating and how it makes you feel. You’ll find that not only does this help you understand the flavors better but it is also fun and a great conversation starter.
If you’re hosting a party, having a few wines on hand for your guests is always a good idea. You don’t want to be faced with a bottle of wine that you’ve never heard of, but you also don’t want to be stuck trying to match it up with the flavor profiles in your food. Ordering wines from an online wine catalog gives you access to various varieties and helps you avoid having one or two bottles of wine sitting around the house.