An Idiot’s Guide to Choosing Wine for Dinner

At some point in your life, possessing the ability to purchase something outside the realm of 30 packs and plastic jugs of vodka will prove to be a valuable asset. Whether it’s a candlelight dinner with a nice steak, or a casual meal of fresh seafood, there are plenty of subtle tips which can point you in the right direction for selecting the right wine for dinner. This doesn’t have to be a headache inducing, frustrating experience either, as it doesn’t really take a connoisseur to make a decent choice.

  • Take a minute to consider exactly what type of cuisine you might be eating. You don’t have to know exactly what dish you might order, but knowing the specific protein and general genre makes everything far easier. For example, fish and steak pair well with completely different types of wine, so try to pick something and stick with it.
  • Consider which types of wine you might want to have. This is kind of the point, right? If you’re slightly pickier about your vino, this can help to dictate what type of food you want for dinner. If you hate Zinfandels, it probably won’t matter how well it pairs with a tomato based pasta dish, so try to weigh both components of the meal to make an effect match.
  • Try to use some common sense. It’s no major secret light dishes should mesh with lighter wines, while heavier foods are better with darker, red wines. One of the most crucial points is trying to strike a nice balance between foods and drink so the best components complement each other. The characteristics of the wine should enhance the flavors of your dinner, making the entire experience ever more enjoyable.
  • This isn’t an exact science. Everyone’s tastes and preferences are unique, so at the end of the day this is ultimately up to you to discover what works best. Of course, there’s only one way to figure this out, and experimenting with all of the assorted, delicious flavors is all part of the fun.
  • Finally, here are some general suggestions of common pairings to use as guidelines on your next dinner: Chardonnay works well with chicken, shellfish, and other grilled fish, especially salmon. If you’re having a hearty pasta dish or red meat, Merlot is always a nice choice. Cabernet Sauvignon also pairs great with steak and other beef dishes. Try Sauvignon Blanc with lighter fare, such as white fish, chicken, or a mild cheese. Pinot Noir is a popular choice with meats like beef or pork, as well as pasta with red sauce.
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