Perfect Pairings from your Wine Country Trip
You came, you sipped, you purchased. Follow a few simple guidelines and you can be sure you’ll match the flavors of your culinary creations with the wine you loved enough to purchase and haul home. Our insider tips will have you pairing like a pro at a glance! These tips can also be used when planning your Wine Country visit to Sonoma or Napa in Northern California.
Pair light with light
Pork is a mild meat, so you want to stay away from rich, robust reds that will overpower its flavor. Look for a lighter-bodied, fruitier red, like Craig Colagrossi’s Pinot Noir out of Sonoma County. Colagrossi’s wines can be tasted on the Sonoma Plaza at The Sonoma Wine Shop as well as in his Windsor tasting room closer to the Russian River. It pairs nicely with the cheese and vegetarian offerings from the kitchen of La Bodega too (think lasagne and ravioli).
Match acidity with acidity
Acidic wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino and Verdejo have a crisp, citrusy tang that makes your mouth water, cleanses your palate AND enhances the creaminess of certain cheeses. Grieve Family Winery is our boutique pick for an elegant Sauvignon Blanc, straight out of Lovall Valley. We also like Duckhorn’s Sauvignon Blanc and we match it with Bistro Jeanty’s Tomato Soup in the heart of Napa Valley.
Offset spice with sweetness
A wine with a hint of sugar helps cool off spicier dishes. That’s why Rieslings and Gewürztraminers – or the delicious Muscat Canelli- are considered classic pairings for Indian and Thai cuisines. We have two recommendations from two of our tours for examples. The first is Cline Cellars Viognier – which we pair with Indian food at our Delhi Belly Bistro stop on the Sonoma Plaza. The second is Moscato Azul out of Calistoga in Napa Valley by famed winemaker Heidi Barrett. We discovered this gem in Yountville’s newest restaurant, Protea for our spicy Puerto Rican pairing. It’s dry for a Muscat, but still has enough sweetness to make an ideal pairing when it comes to food with a kick.
Find the right balance
Seafood, especially when prepared in a Mediterranean style, is best enjoyed with Rose as neither dominates the other, Grenache Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Marsanne-Rousanne blends also achieve nice balance when eating from the sea. We love John Pepe’s Ivy Rose de Syrah from Peche Merle Winery in Geyserville in the Alexander Valley region of Sonoma.
Big flavors for Big Reds
Certain seasonings, like smoked paprika have a powerful flavor even though they are not spicy. That means you need a bigger, bolder red. Try any of Stephanie Putman’s Cabernet Sauvignons from Raymond Vineyards. She has been pulling high ratings from day one. They even have a brand with famed singer John Legend. The Napa Valley Vineyards is surrounded by bucolic vineyards that sit on the border of Rutherford and St Helena.
Stick to region
Eating French food? Drink a French varietal. We LOVE Shoeshine wine by Eric Cohen’s Justice Grace Wines. He makes a Petite Syrah to die for and it comes in a very impressive bottle with a hand tied closure. Dining on Italian? Pour an Italian Varietal. A favorite Sangiovese for us is made by Mario Andretti’s winery between the towns of Napa and Yountville. You cannot go wrong… pump up your pizza or spaghetti pairing with a bottle and you will soon be opening another!
If you are planning your wine country trip and are trying to get your wine home. Know about Bodega, a wine shipping company out of Sonoma, that will collect your wine from each tasting room, package it up and ensure it arrives safely at your home. They offer the same service for Napa.
When your wine arrives, you now have a good idea of what to make for dinner to pair with your latest cases of goodness!