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Travels with Dionysus: Pairing foods with wines from around the globe Print E-mail

Sunday, 08 January 2012 00:00

Written by Ted Onulak

It’s   tough to pair the right wine with a meal, especially with wines from all over the world.  Here are some tips that may be helpful to novice and expert alike.

If you are at a restaurant specializing in regional cuisine, like Italian, French, Spanish or Mediterranean, The wines should reflect the cuisine.  Match a regional wine with the corresponding food, like a Rioja with tapas, a Cotes du Rhone with Southern French food or a Super Tuscan with Italian dishes. 

It helps to know some geography when choosing wine.  Wines from warm, sunny climates like Australia, California, or Chile will be a little fruitier and have higher alcohol content, making them perfect with spicy or sweet and sour flavors. 

Cold climate wines from Oregon, Burgundy, Bordeaux or other cooler regions, will be more tannic, due to the slower ripening and thicker skins of their grapes.  They are great with meats, slow-cooked dishes and creamy sauces. 

Ask your server where a wine is from.   It’s not hard to figure out that California is hot and sunny and Washington State is cool and rainy.  This is one of the best keys for choosing wines in a global market. 

Point out a wine and ask for your server’s opinion.  If they are sharp, they will get the hint about price range and offer suggestions. 

But you can find restaurants whose menus are all over the map or people are ordering different entrees.  But there are some options. 

One possibility is wine by the glass.  Unless you are in an eatery specializing in this, you will probably get a boring wine.  Also, you don’t know   how long the wine has been opened and it’s condition.  Ask for a taste to see if you like it, but choices are limited, perhaps only a house red or white.  

The better option is ordering half bottles.  This is a new trend in restaurants and can help make a good food match.  A half bottle will yield about 2 glasses of wine and even prestigious producers like Corton Charlemagne offer half bottles. 

If you are dining with a group and choices range from meat to fish, there are wines that go with practically anything.  Get your server to recommend a medium-bodied wine that will compliment most foods.  Some great choices are a Beaujolais, a California Cabernet-Merlot blend, or a super Tuscan.  Red Zinfandel from the Dry Creek and Mount Vidor area are juicy wines with notes of spice that go well with most foods. 

Thanks to global competition, ordering good wine in a restaurant is easy.  These tips should help to take the anxiety out of the process.  So let’s eat, drink and be merry! 


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