Spain’s Sherry Region

One of the more notable wine trends during the last few years has been the resurgence of fortified wines such as sherry.  Sherry is no longer viewed with the stuffy Old-World sentiment as it once was.  I personally remember as a child seeing sherry being served in tiny ornate crystal glasses to elderly visitors.

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Sherry is a unique wine that is exclusively produced in the wine-growing region of Jerez, Spain, located in a triangle of land formed by the towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María.  Sherry has been produced in the region since the 8th century but it was the British who began exporting it after conquering Cádiz in 1587.  They called it sherry since it was easier to pronounce than “Jerez”.

The process of producing sherry is very complex. The wine is fermented and placed in a ‘solera system’ which are barrels that are stacked up on their sides in a pyramid-like shape. Yeast develops on the wine, known as flor, which stops the wine turning to vinegar and adding extra spice and flavour to the wine. The wine gets transferred from the top of the Solera system down through each layer over time, blending with older wine each time to create a complex ageing process. Alternatively, sherry can be aged oxidatively, by being left in contact with the air.

The ancient ageing process combined with the diverse fortification methods and the microclimate within each town is what creates the different sherries. Most dry sherries use the Palomino grape variety, where the sweet ones tend to use Moscatel or the Pedro Ximénez grapes. Below are the most famous sherry styles.

Dry Sherry Wine

Dry sherries are good to drink as an apéritif and should be served chilled. The dryer the wine, the cooler the temperature should be. Finos and Manzanillas generally remain around five years in the ​solera ​system, whereas Amontillados and Olorosos spend ten or more years.


Fino is the driest of sherries. Fino sherries have a light body and a low alcohol content, which ranges between 15 to 17%. It tends to lose its flavour after it’s opened, so it’s best to drink it straight away and is best chilled.

Fino pairs well with salty foods such as olives, almonds and Spanish jamón. It also goes well with seafood and sushi.


Manzanilla is a type of fino made exclusively in the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The ageing process is similar to Fino, but the proximity to the sea and the humidity results in a paler wine with salty notes. It should be served chilled and within a day or two after opening.

Recommended food pairings are similar to Fino.  It goes well with olives, almonds, Spanish jamón, fried fish and seafood such as shrimp or raw oysters.


This wine begins as a Fino, ageing first under the ​velo de flor​ (protects the wine from air and imparts its own crisp, saline flavour) for four to six years and then through oxidation. This last stage allows the wine to develop more nutty flavours such as almond and hazelnut. The wine has an amber colour and it can vary between dry or medium-dry if mixed with a small amount of Pedro Ximénez grapes. It has an alcohol level of 16% to 18%.

​Amontillado will pair well with pork and rabbit or bird meats such as chicken, turkey or quail.


This sherry has more of a full body. It has a dark golden colour and notes of dried fruit and spices. Olorosos spend about six to eight years in the solera​ and has an alcohol content of between 18% to 20%.

It pairs well with grilled red meats, game, aged cheeses and mushrooms.

Palo Cortado

Palo Cortado is a rare kind of sherry that usually occurs by accident.  It begins as a Fino and then develops more like an Oloroso. The result is a dark-coloured wine with great body. It has an alcohol level of between 18% to 20%.

Suggested food pairing include the same foods that compliment oloroso or amontillado, as well as game meats, nuts, vegetables and blue cheese.

Sweet Sherry Wine

Regarding sweet sherry, the name of the grape is often used along with the word “crema”. Sweet wines can range from pale cream, which is sweetened Fino, to cream, which is sweetened Oloroso.  There’s also “medium” which is usually referring to a sweetened Amontillado. All these wines contain around 15.5% to 22% alcohol.

Sweet sherries pair well with desserts, foie gras or mature cheeses such as blue cheese.

Within the sweet sherry realm, there are two other sherries, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel (also spelled Muscatel), which are named after the grapes used in their production.

Pedro Ximénez

This is a sweet sherry with a honey-like consistency. It is the product of 85% of Pedro Ximénez grapes which are dried in the sun for about a week. It is considered to be a dessert wine and has an alcohol level of 15% to 22%.  It will pair well with blue cheese, almond tart or vanilla ice cream.


Like Pedro Ximénez, Moscatel sherry will consist of a minimum of 85% of Moscatel grapes. The grapes are dried in the sun before being pressed and added to a solera​.  Moscatel goes well with ice cream or a fruit tart.

Sherry wine cellars are referred to as bodegas.  Some of the best bodegas are located in:

Jerez De La Frontera

  • Bodegas Fundador: Established in 1730, it’s the oldest bodega in Jerez. 

  • Gonzalez Byass:​ Also known as Tio Pepe.  It began in 1835 and produces a variety of sherries, but it’s renowned mostly for its Fino styles with salty and citrus notes.

  • Emilio Lustau:​ Lustau is a large bodega in Jerez founded in 1896. It produces a wide selection of sherries.

  • Bodegas Tradicion: The wine making process follows traditional guidelines, with sherries kept in their natural state, without additives or filtering.

Located in Sanlúcar De Barrameda

  • Barbadillo:​ This bodega has existed since 1821.

  • Hidalgo: ​Sherry has been produced at Hidalgo since 1792, and since then the business has been passed down through the same family.

In Closing …

It’s time to move on beyond the former stereotype that sherry is only for our elders.  It is in fact a drink for all.

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Pizza and Wine

Pizza is one of the most versatile dishes.  It can be presented gourmet style at a dinner party to discriminating adults, served to a group of rambunctious kids at a birthday party, munched on as finger food in front of the television, or eaten cold from the fridge as breakfast.  The styles vary greatly as well, spanning from micro-thin Roman crust to Chicago-style deep dish.  Complicating things further is the broad range of toppings that can adorn the pizza; a variety of flavourful meats that will have a wide range of spiciness; vegetables that range in the level of heat; an assortment of cheeses with varying levels of saltiness; the possibility of anchovies or pineapple; and finally, the type of sauce.  Complicating things even further is the option to have a variety of pizzas at one time, giving guests several choices to indulge in.

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So how do you ever decide which wine to serve with all these variations and possibilities?  Should the wine be paired with pizza sauce and toppings in similar fashion as with a plate of pasta? What if there are multiple pizzas or a pizza that is half one type and half another type? Should Italian wine be served in recognition of pizza’s origins, even if you are serving pineapple and ham topped pizza?  How can the simplest dish be so complicated?

A number of experts agree that pretty much any wine can go well with pizza. It can be fun to pair your favourite pizza with the perfect wine but you may feel that pizza wine is a mood. The trick is to find wine that celebrates rather than competes with what’s on your mind and your plate.  In other words, the perfect pizza wine is in the eye of the beholder.

When serving one type of wine with a variety of pizza, choose a versatile bottle that will appeal to as many people as possible.   If you decide to serve more than one type of wine, be sure to highlight this fact and encourage your guests to try the various combinations of wine and pizza.

However, for those who prefer to match specific wines to a particular type of pizza, here are some suggestions for you.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

The smokiness and sweetness of the barbeque sauce will pair well with Pinot Noir, Dolcetto, Merlot, Chardonnay or Rosé.

Hawaiian Pizza

A reasonably sweet Riesling, Prosecco or Sauvignon Blanc will pair well as a counterbalance to the saltiness of the ham and the flavour of the pineapple.

Margherita Pizza

Featuring the simple and classic flavours of tangy tomato, creamy mozzarella and fragrant basil, a margarita pizza lends itself to light/medium-bodied wines. Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese or Rosé would all be good choices.

Meat Lovers Pizza

The intense flavours of Meat Lovers needs a wine with a higher amount of tannins, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Shiraz or Malbec.

Pepperoni Pizza

Because of the spiciness of pepperoni, a wine with rich, fruity flavours like a Sangiovese, Barbera or Nebbiolo would pair well.

Vegetarian Pizza

With Vegetarian pizza it is important to have a wine that won’t compete with the mix of vegetables on the pizza. An unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Prosecco or Rosé are all good choices.

Final Thoughts

Whatever you decide to do, whether it be pair your wine to the type of pizza or take a more generalist approach, there is an old theory that says, “What grows together, goes together”, which means that most any Italian-style wine will go well with whatever pizza you serve.  My personal preference is Sangiovese but Chianti, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Nero d’Avola, Fiano or Vermentino pair well too.

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Wine and Shellfish Pairings

I previously talked about wine pairings with various types of fish so today I will review the rest of the food that comes from the oceans of the world, shellfish.

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So, what kind of wine goes best with shellfish? It is commonly said that white wine goes with seafood and red wine goes with meat. However, since I have written this article and you are reading it, you probably know it isn’t quite as simple as that.

Shellfish served without a sauce tends to call for light whites, like Vouvray from France’s Loire valley or sparkling wines like Champagne.

When it comes to shellfish served in sauce, the sauce should be your guide when selecting an appropriate wine.  Generally, though, most pair well with a medium-bodied acidic white wine like unoaked Chardonnay, white Burgundy or German Riesling.

Spicy dishes will pair well with a wine that has some sweetness, like an off-dry Gewürztraminer or an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.

If you can’t decide or everyone at the table is eating something different, Champagne is a great choice as it is one of the most food-friendly of wines.

You can also look to the cooking style to help you choose your wine.  Generally, Teriyaki and other sweet sauces pair well with a sweeter wine, such as an off-dry rosé.  Spicy sauces like curries go well with a sweet or slightly sweet low-alcohol white wine like Riesling or Moscato.  Herb-based sauces seasoned with basil, parsley, or mint pair well with a Sauvignon Blanc or Torrontés.

Here are some wine suggestions to go along with specific shellfish dishes:

Lobster Rolls

Lobster rolls pair well with a light and fragrant white wine like Spain’s Verdejo or a medium-bodied white wine like Chardonnay.


Light and citrusy ceviche will go well with a high-acid, citrusy white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.

Clam Chowder

Creamy New England style clam chowder goes well with an oaked Chardonnay. On the other hand, tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder pairs well with a light white wine such as a Greek Assyrtiko.

Shrimp Cocktail

There are both red and white wine options to go along with a shrimp cocktail.  A white wine with a touch of sweetness, such as an off-dry Riesling, or a fruity medium-bodied red like Merlot, or even a sparkling wine like Cava are options.

Crab Cakes

Crab cakes go well with a lightly oaked Chardonnay, or a light white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.

Seafood Boil

A southern-style crawfish or shrimp boil will have some spice and heat so it will need a slightly sweet white wine like an off-dry Riesling or Viognier, or even a sparkling wine like Cava or Prosecco.

Linguine & Clam Sauce

This light and garlicky pasta goes well with a light white wine like Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio). If you opt for a red clam sauce, a Chianti will go well.


Mussels in a white wine sauce will pair well with a white wine, such as Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio), Chablis, or Sauvignon Blanc. Mussels in a tomato-based sauce will pair well with lighter to medium-bodied red wines that are high in acidity, like Pinot Noir.

In Closing …

Any time of year is the perfect time to enjoy shellfish and wine, whether you’re dining at your favourite restaurant, your own dining table, or even in the summertime backyard.

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Wine for a Summer Picnic

With summertime fast approaching it will soon be time to focus on going to the beach and picnics.  The recipe for a great picnic is great weather and food and of course, wonderful wine.   A good picnic wine will be refreshing, balanced, and will pair well with the foods you pack. A picnic should not require a lot of fuss and muss.  The focus should be on sharing good food and wine with family or friends.  If it requires a huge amount of time and effort to prepare, the outcome is probably not worth the effort.

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One thing not to do is consider a picnic the same as a barbecue.  The wines that pair well at a barbecue are not necessarily the same ones that work well at a picnic. Barbecues are all about bold and spicy where picnics are more about a broad spectrum of lighter fare. Most of the foods served at a picnic will be cold and on the lighter side.

Common picnic foods include things such as potato salad, cold fried chicken, cheeses and crackers, charcuterie, fresh bread and fresh fruit. Wines best suited include cool, crisp, whites, rosés or very light reds.

White wine options include Sauvignon Blanc and Fumé Blanc which are dry, crisp, herbal whites that are ideal for summer sipping. They won’t overpower picnic food.  Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio or Pinot Blanc are fruitier but still light and perfect for a picnic. They are bright, acidic and loaded with crisp citrus fruit and minerality.

A dry Riesling with crisp acidity and light mineral flavours will pair well with spicier foods such as charcuterie.  Moscato d’Asti is a lightly fizzy white with apricot and almond flavours that will pair well with fruit and salads.

A freezer sleeve that slides over a standard 750 ml. bottle will keep your wine chilled.

Rosé or blush wines are versatile. They should also be served chilled the same as whites. These lightly acidic wines offer fruit flavours such as melon, strawberry and red fruit qualities that pair well with cheese and crackers, seafood, salads or cold chicken.

Light red wines with less alcohol, such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Beaujolais would be good choices for a picnic, particularly charcuterie and cold cuts. While these wines don’t need to be served chilled, they should not be overwarmed so transporting them in a cooler would be a good idea.  Set them out about 10 minutes before serving.

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Rosé With a Difference

Now that the warm weather is here it is a great time to crack open a bottle of Rosé.  Pale Rosé is by far the most common and thus the most popular type of Rosé but there is a second less known, darker Rosé.

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Darker Rosés can have a fuller body and a greater concentration of flavours.  They may be more complex and structured, making them able to pair well with a wider array of summertime foods.

The most common types of red wine grapes used to make Rosé are Grenache, Sangiovese, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault and Pinot Noir.  The skins are generally exposed to the wine for only a short time. Where some red wines ferment for weeks at a time on red grape skins, rosé wines are left for just a few hours.  However, when making dark Rosé, only dark-skinned varietals are used, such as Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Syrah, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon.  The grape skins are also exposed to the wine for a longer period of time in order to gain more flavour.

Where light and medium bodied Rosés pair well with cheese, creamy sauces and dips, savoury canapés, mezes and tapas, darker Rosés will go well with smoke and char flavours of grilled meats and vegetables, as well as full-flavoured sauces.

The occasion for serving Rosé varies by type as well.  Light or medium-bodied ones are best served chilled and lend themselves well to sipping while relaxing at the cottage or in the backyard.  Darker Rosés, on the other hand, fair well served chilled, at a backyard barbecue.

Whichever Rosé you prefer, now is the best time of year to sit back, relax and enjoy a glass.

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Wine and Fish Pairings

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Because there is such a large array of types of fish and so many ways of preparing it, there is a wide variety of wines suitable to serve with fish.  Both the flavour and texture of the fish are key and are often categorized into the following four groups:

  • Lean and flaky mild fish
  • Medium textured fish
  • Meaty fish
  • Strong flavoured fish

Lean and Flaky Mild Fish

Lean mild fish include sole, perch, flounder, tilapia and sea bass.  These fish pair well with fresh zesty white wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Unoaked Chardonnay or Chablis, Champagne, Muscadet, Portuguese whites or Greek whites.

Medium Textured Fish

Medium textured fish are considered as flaky fish but are of a firmer and thicker texture than the lean fish.  Some experts would include sea bass in this category in addition to trout, arctic char, haddock and cod.

Wine pairing options to consider include medium bodied oaked Chardonnay, California or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, White Rioja, Sémillon, Pinot Gris or Vermentino.

Meaty Fish

Fish considered as meaty include salmon, tuna, bluefish, monkfish, mahi mahi, shark, and swordfish.  The range of wine options increase with this category to include dry Rosé and lighter reds.

Wine pairings include whites such as oaked Chardonnay, Champagne, White Burgundy, Grenache Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris, as well as reds such as Pinot Noir, Beaujolais and Valpolicella.

Strong Flavoured Fish

Strong flavoured fish are oilier, as well as being stronger in flavour.  Included in this category are herring, mackerel, sardines and anchovies.  These fish need to be offset by crisp bracing wines, including both white and chilled red options.

White options include Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc, White Bordeaux and Grenache Blanc.  Red wine choices would be Gamay and Pinot Noir.

Preparations and Sauces

The way the fish is cooked, whether it is baked, fried or grilled, influences the wine choice as well.  Further complicating things is the inclusion of other ingredients.  For example, spicy dishes are served best with a wine containing some sweetness in order to offset the heat.  Fish served in a cream sauce is best served with a more acidic wine in order to cleanse the palate.

Curry Sauces

Since curry sauces tend to be a little bit on the sweet side they pair well with wines such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer or Prosecco.

Herb Sauces

Herb sauces will often contain basil, parsley, dill, chives, mint, cilantro, dill, lemongrass, capers or even cucumber.  Complimentary wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis or Trebbiano.

Spicy Sauces

Spicy sauces will be made with paprika, pepper, cumin, coriander or chili.  Such fish dishes will pair well with Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, Riesling or a red Grenache.

Sweet Sauces

Pineapple, mango, orange, teriyaki and sweet and sour sauce are all considered as sweet.  The lighter coloured sauces pair well with a Riesling whereas the darker sauces, such as teriyaki, are well complimented by a Rosé.

Zesty Sauces

These include lemon, lime or vinegar-based sauces that will pair well with light zesty wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, White Bordeaux or Grenache Blanc.

Fish and Chips

A fresh, dry white wine with a high level of acidity is best suited for countering the fattiness of battered fish.  A crisp Sauvignon Blanc pairs well, as does a dry Champagne or similar white sparkler.

Raw Fish

If raw fish is your thing, it will pair well with an extra dry white wine such as Muscadet or Trebbiano or a red such as Pinot Noir or Burgundy.

Smoked Fish

Smoked fish, such as salmon or trout, will be a little drier than unsmoked fish of the same species.  Smoked fish will pair well with a vintage Champagne, Sparkling Rosé, dry Riesling or White Pinot Noir.

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Cooking with Wine

Cooking with wine was first introduced by the Romans but it is French chefs who have been credited with refining the techniques.  Even though other cultures have used wine in cooking, it is the classic French methods that have prevailed.  These include braising, deglazing, marinating and poaching.

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Braising with Wine

Braising will help to take a modest cut of meat and make it become extra special.  You can use simple cuts such as beef, lamb or pork shoulder, beef or lamb shanks, chicken thighs, beef brisket or various stewing meats. You can even use this process with vegetables.

Braising meat in butter or oil sears it to create a dark golden flavourful crust.  Wine and stock are then added and the meat is then left to simmer.  The acidity of the wine tenderizes the meat while the alcohol cooks off.

Bold flavourful red wines such as Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon are best for braising as they will provide good flavour, complexity and richness to your dish. 

Deglazing with Wine

Deglazing a pan with wine is one of the easiest ways to make a sauce. Start by pan-searing chicken, pork, beef, lamb or even eggplant to brown them as described in braising above.  Once seared, add wine to the pan to loosen the caramelized brown bits.  The wine reduces and becomes concentrated in the hot pan.  In addition to helping to make a tasty sauce it helps to clean the pan.

Deglazing works best with meats and vegetables that are thick enough to brown before becoming overcooked.  Be careful not to rush the process in order to prevent charring.  A generous amount of oil in the pan will help with the browning.  Any excess can be poured off prior to adding the wine.  To give the sauce more length and flavour, stock, cream, chilled butter, sour cream, water or jam may be added.

Depending on what’s on the menu, either red or white wine may be a suitable choice.  When selecting a red however, it is important to select one with lower tannins.  Otherwise, when the wine is concentrated it will become bitter. A Pinot Noir or Gamay is always a good choice.

Marinating with Wine

Wine will infuse flavour into whatever meal you are preparing. The acidity in the wine will break down meat tissue and tenderize it.

Marinades usually consist of an acid (wine, lemon or lime juice or vinegar and oil) as well as flavour additives, such as maple syrup, soy sauce, brown sugar, herbs, spices, sesame seed oil or mustard.

The wine to use in the marinade should be selected in the same manner as you would when pairing a wine to enjoy with the dinner itself.  The meat, fish or vegetable being prepared should determine the wine selected for the marinade.  For darker meats like beef or lamb, red wine will complement their flavour.  White wines are better suited for fish, poultry or vegetables.

That being said, keep in mind that the wine needs to have enough acidity to tenderize the dish.  Either the description on the wine label or the store shelf should provide the necessary information.  If not, the store staff should be able to assist you in making the appropriate selection.

Poaching with Wine

Poaching simmers delicate foods like fish and poultry in a flavourful liquid.  The acid in wine, lemon or lime juice or vinegar helps cook the food and enhances its flavour.  The poaching liquid needs to be well seasoned and the food is often served with a sauce to give additional flavour.  The food being poached should always be simmered and be completely submerged to ensure it cooks evenly.

In order to avoid discolouration of what is being cooked, white wine is usually recommended when poaching.  Suggested grape varietals include Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

Final Thoughts

When pairing the wine with what you are preparing, select a wine of the same colour and similar characteristics. Lighter dishes should be paired with a lighter bodied wine while heavier dishes should be combined with medium or full-bodied wines.

No matter what you are preparing and how you are preparing it, keep in mind that you will also want to drink it.  Most recipes don’t require an entire bottle of wine so what’s left should be something that you will enjoy drinking.

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Wine with Pasta

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Pairing wine with pasta is somewhat of a misnomer as what you are really doing is pairing the wine with the pasta sauce. For the purposes of today’s discussion I will stick to the basics, focusing on five common types of pasta sauce:

  • Tomato
  • Cheese
  • Seafood
  • Pesto (herbs)
  • Primavera (vegetable)

Tomato-Based Pasta

The tomatoes in these sauces make them high in acidity.  Because of this, a relatively tart but not too heavy wine is often best suited for these dishes.  If you want an Italian wine, Primitivo, Sangiovese or Chianti would go well.  Other options include Grenache, American Zinfandel or a French Rhône blend.

Cheese-Based Pasta

Cheese is very versatile and pairs well with either red or white wine.  It is best to pair the cheese with a wine having similar characteristics.  For example, creamy cheeses, such as ricotta, will go well with an oaked Chardonnay or Italian Trebbiano.  Light body red wines compliment sauces made with hard cheese.  Some suggestions are Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Langhe Nebbiolo.

For additional cheese pairing ideas see my blog Cheese Pairings from March 6, 2021.

Seafood Pasta

For everything except tomato-based seafood dishes, a lighter weight, acidic white wine is the ideal choice.  Options include Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, Grenache Blanc, Muscadet, Verdiccio or Vernaccia.  For tomato-based dishes a Rosé is a good option.

Pesto or Herb Pasta

Although pine nut and basil pesto is probably the most common of the herb pasta sauces, other options include basil and walnut, parsley and pistachio and peanut and cilantro.  A white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Austrian Grüner Veltliner would be a good choice.

Primavera Pasta

Primavera sauce may consist of a variety of vegetables such as onions, garlic ramps or artichokes.  For non-tomato based primavera sauces, a flavourful white wine is well suited.  Options include Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino and Trebbiano di Luana.  For tomato-based primavera, follow the suggestions for tomato-based pasta above.

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Wine with Comfort Food

With the warmer weather becoming a distant memory and the dark cold days of winter coming, thoughts turn to hunkering down in front of the fire and indulging in comfort foods. When pairing your wine to your meal there are 5 factors about the wine to consider: tannins, the body or ‘weight’, acidity, intensity and sweetness.


Tannins are the components in red wine that make your mouth feel dry and give a wine its texture.  When served with food tannins will soften proteins and provide a good balance to fatty foods.  Therefore such wines go well with rich meats and cheeses.


Body is the perception of weight in a wine.  A light body wine will feel lighter in your mouth than a wine that is full-bodied. When pairing with foods, it is best to pair full-bodied wine with heavier foods.


Acidity in wine generally ranges from being soft and light, like a pear, to crisp and bright like a lemon.  Acidity will cut through rich and fatty foods.  Wines with crisp acidity pair well with rich meats and cheeses, creamy sauces and oily foods.


Intensity is the speed in which the wine’s aromas and flavours react to your sense of smell and taste.  Wines with more intense flavour and aroma (bouquet) will be best with subtly flavoured foods like creamy pasta, risotto or mild cheeses.


Sweetness relates to the taste of the wine rather than the actual amount of sugar content.  When pairing a wine with food the wine should taste as sweet as, or sweeter than the food.  Sweet wines also pair well with spicy foods.

Based on this information it can be a simple process to pair wine with your favourite comfort foods.  For example here are some suggested wines to pair with my own comfort foods:

  • Homemade Mac & Cheese
    Light unoaked Chardonnay goes well but if you like to add lobster or crab then a white Burgundy or Chenin Blanc may be more to your liking
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
    A red wine such as Sangiovese, Chianti, Barbera, a fruity acidic Merlot or a Zinfandel
  • Homemade Pizza
    Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Merlot
  • Grilled Cheese
    Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio), Gewürztraminer or Riesling
  • Meat Lasagna
    Primitivo, Sangiovese, Barbera or Valpolicella
  • Chicken Noodle soup
    Pinot Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay or light-bodied, low-tannin reds such as Beaujolais, Gamay, Baco Noir or Pinot Noir
  • Beef stew
    Red Bordeaux, Malbec, Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chicken and dumplings
    Oaked Chardonnay
  • Chili
    Malbec or Zinfandel
  • Shepherd’s pie
    Syrah (Shiraz) or Zinfandel
  • Chicken pot pie
    Chardonnay or Merlot

Comfort food and a nice glass of wine; what better way to brace yourself for the cold weather ahead!

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