Dinner Party Wines Guide: Your Guide To Food and Wine Pairing

Dinner Party Wines Guide: Your Guide To Food and Wine Pairing

 Dinner Party Wine

Dinner parties. You have to love them. Gathering friends for good food and fine wine, what’s not to like? Some people do find dinner parties a little daunting – especially when it comes to food and wine pairing. Getting this right doesn’t have to be difficult though, and to ensure your party goes with a swing, here’s our dinner party wine guide.

Step 1: Think about what food you’re serving

Food and wine is a marriage made in heaven. When planning a dinner party most people will think about the food first and try and find wines that will bring out the best in what they are serving. This is a sensible approach and when it comes to wine and food pairing, these all work well:

  • Champagne and sparkling wine – all forms of sparkling wine make for stylish aperitifs, but they are also excellent with seafood and baked cheeses such as camembert as they have the freshness to cut through.

  • Rosé wine – is also a great aperitif, particularly the more delicate, complex Provence rosés. Rosé wines also go brilliantly with white and pink fish – particularly smoked fish – and can pair well with pork, poultry and lamb.

  • White wine – generally these are best with white meats, fish, and vegetarian foods. There are, however, some styles that are particularly well-suited to certain styles of food. Fragrant whites from Alsace, Germany or Italy are great with Asian cuisine. Fruit-driven whites such as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or South African Chenin Blanc goes well with foods that are naturally low in acidity such as pork, chicken, or flat fish. Oaked whites like a white Burgundy or a Californian Chardonnay have the power to stand up to richer dishes with creamy sauces or flavoursome risottos.
  • Red wine – while red meats and cheeses are natural partners, a lot depends on the wine.  Lighter reds such as Beaujolais or New Zealand Pinot Noirs are brilliant with things like goats’ cheese or sirloin steak but may be overwhelmed by a blue cheese or slow-cooked lamb shank. For these bigger dishes, you’ll want something like an Australian Shiraz or a fine red Bordeaux.
  • Desert wine – the most misunderstood of all wines, these are, ironically, often best served with savoury dishes. Blue cheeses, pâtes, and shellfish are all superb partners for sweet wines as a good sweet will have plenty of freshness as well as sweetness. When it comes to desserts, simple fruit ones work best, and avoid chocolate puddings, wine just doesn’t really go with chocolate.

Step 2: How much wine to serve?

Just as you don’t want people to go hungry, you don’t want your guests to die of thirst. Only you will know how much you like to drink and if your guests will be driving, but a good rule of thumb is a bottle per person plus one over. So five people are coming, get six bottles in. It’s a good idea to get a pair of each wine. That way if something proves popular, you’ll have enough for a top-up all-round.

Step 3: Let the wine breathe

Giving a wine some time to breathe can make a huge difference to how it tastes. Red and whites will both benefit from a couple of hours open and the younger the wine, the longer it will need. Using a decanter is great as it will aerate the wine, but if you haven’t got one take a glass out of the bottle as that will allow the air in – and give you the chance to have an early glass!

Step 4: Serve wines at the right temperature

Serving a wine at the wrong temperature can kill it. Serve a red wine that is too cold and it can taste hard, metallic and fruitless. Serve a white too warm and it will taste lifeless, heavy, and dull. Serving temperature is a matter of personal preference, but try wines at these temperatures:

  • Sparkling – around 40°F or 5°C
  • Rosé – around 45°F or 7°C
  • White (light) – around 50°F or 10°C
  • White (oaked) – around 55°F or 12°C
  • Red (light) – around 60°F or 16°C
  • Red (powerful) – around 65°F or 18°C

Serve the right wine at the right temperature with the right food and you’ll be on to a winner.

Step 5: Food and wine pairing nightmares

This isn’t so much a step as cautionary advice. While the right food and wine pairing can be a marriage made in heaven, so putting the wrong food and wine together can be a match made in Hell. Some foods simply aren’t suitable for pairing with wine. These include:

  • Egg dishes – they are too dense and don’t give the wine much to work with
  • Chocolate – the combination of sweetness, complexity and power make this a tough food to pair with wine
  • Curry – an aromatic, mild Thai curry or spiced rather than spicy Indian dish will work with aromatic wines like Riesling or Garganega. If you’re serving a full-throttled Madras or Jalfrezi then a beer is what you need

Ultimately what works for you works. So if you enjoy washing down a chicken Madras with Saint Emilion, then that’s perfect.

Like to know more about wine?

We hope you’ve found this fine wine guide useful. If you’d like to explore the world of wine, why not become a Perfect Cellar member?  With our exclusive TastingBOXES, interactive tastings via Alexa, and an incredible range of fine wines, we have everything you need to enjoy finer wine. Perfect.

You may also be interested in reading our more in-depth red wine guide, white wine guide and sparkling wine guide.



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