Choosing the correct wine for a formal dinner is a very important decision that often affects the quality and atmosphere of the meal. Our Vice President and local wine expert, Silvio DePiante, was born and raised in Northern Italy. Since then he has traveled the globe and become an exceptional wine connoisseur. This week, we have decided to feature a few trade secrets from our very own specialist.

Here’s a helpful hint if you don’t know exactly where to begin pairing wines with foods. Normally the lighter the food served the lighter the wine to accompany it. For example, a light fish would be served with a light wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. For a tenderloin served with a demi glace, a robust red would be the best choice.

The temperature also plays a very important role. Most white wines you’ll come across including Chenin Blancs, Sauvignon Blancs, Loire Wines, Rieslings and ‘everyday’ Chardonnays need to be served colder or else the aromas and flavors will be minimized and you won’t get full enjoyment – 45F is an ideal temperature. Red wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bordeaux, Zinfandel, Rhones and Syrah/Shiraz, on the other hand, need to be served at around 60F.

The wines that are entering the market change almost yearly.  For instance, Malbec (from Argentina) used to be considered only for blending, but now Malbecs are entering their own.  You will find that because Malbecs are little known, they are inexpensive and worth experimenting with.  Malbecs are just one of what we call new varietals.

Also, wine regions take time to mature and right now one of the most exciting regions domestically is the Oregon region – the rocky soil of Oregon has turned out to be a perfect match for Pinot Noir.  Pinots offer a lighter red and can even be served with some very nice seafood, such as salmon or tuna.  And this, perhaps, is the most exciting trend – choosing wines that are not always served with fish or with meat.  Turns out you can have a lovely seafood meal with Pinot Noir and that a filet mignon can just as easily be enjoyed with a rich Chenin Blanc (the equivalent to American Chardonnays – the same grape, in fact)

Some other nice trends are that often overlooked wines, such as Gewurztraminers, are enjoying a renaissance.    Gewurztraminers from Alsace are wonderfully paired with game, such as turkey, and can even keep up with the strong flavors of lamb.  If you are adventurous, serve a Gewurtraminer or Riesling the next time you have turkey.  It will wow you!  These “sweeter” wines have the capacity to be enjoyed with fresh berries or cranberries as well – think Thanksgiving – a perfect pairing!

Finally, you may want to have Champagne to celebrate, but just as wonderful (and much less expensive) is a Proseco – Italy is full of Prosecos that can be the perfect toast!  And why not have Proseco with your entire meal?  Remember that wines and sparkling wines are consumed to cleanse the palate so that each bite is as good as the last!  Be adventurous and it will pay off as a terrific meal experience!

Happy dining!


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