The Wine Basics: How to Choose The Best Wines For Dinner


Wine isn’t just something you bring to a nice dinner party, it can be a great addition to almost any meal, either as an ingredient or to drink alongside it. I’ve been lucky enough to taste some amazing wines and learn to pair them with my dishes, and I’m glad to pass that knowledge on to you now!

Wine and food are a natural pairing, so a big part of your choice in wine will come from your choice of food. Reds typically go with bold, meaty, intense flavors, lamb, beef, tomato sauce, while whites work better with more subtle flavors like chicken and sea food. Beyond this we can examine the varietals of wine individually to learn about their qualities.

Best White Wines For Dinner

Some whites like Riesling can have an almost sweet flavor, and many display vibrant fruit flavors, Sauvignon Blanc especially is known for this, and it can be a great wine to start off with, especially when its nicely chilled on a hot day. The first wine I ever drank was a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and it remains one of the best drinks I ever had! Then theres Chardonnay, possibly the most popular wine in the world. This white can tend towards being dry, or un-sweet in other words, but it has a lot of rich, oaky flavor that makes it still very enjoyable. Then there’s Pinot Grigio, which has a lot of citrus and acidic flavors. So, when you’re pairing foods with them or cooking with these wines, pick out those dominant flavors and match them to the food. A rich buttery chardonnay would go great with a butter chicken or Parmesan dish, while a sweeter Riesling might compliment a pork dish with sweet and tangy flavors. Whites are typically served chilled.

Best Red Wines For Dinner

Some reds you might find in stores include Merlot, which is a typically smooth and berry flavored red that is very versatile and drinkable. You might also like Pinot Noire, not to be confused with Pinot Grigio. This is a flavorful, spicy red that will also work great with a lot of different dishes. Shiraz is one of my favorite wines to have with lamb due to its rich flavor, and the fact that it often comes from Australia, which is a major lamb producer. Cabernet Sauvignon is a big bold chocolatey red with dryer flavor than Merlot, but still very accessible and nice to drink. Reds need to be swirled and allowed to breathe to get the full effect from them.

General Tips For Choosing The Best Wines To Cook With

Whatever wine you use, there are some general tips for them – firstly, get two bottles if you’re cooking with it – one to cook and one to serve with the dish. Wine amplifies flavors in a dish by helping to deglaze food particles and oils stuck to the pan, while also adding its own flavor. The alcohol in the wine will generally burn off as will a lot of the winey taste, making it more subtle. Wine in food typically wont make it taste like wine, it just adds an indescribable, subtle taste that’s really special. If you have left over wine you’ll want to store it away from oxygen in a well plugged bottle. If you often have leftover wine consider getting a vacuum wine pump to remove air and keep the bottle fresh longer. It should be used within a week or two to prevent it from turning into vinegar, which is a French word that literally means “bad wine”.

Wine Basics

So there you are, now you have some wine basics, go out and try a bottle! You can get wine at most stores now days for ten dollars a bottle or less, there’s really no need to spend more than that if you’re just poking around. Often times the bottle will tell you what to expect from that vintage, or the wine from that year, so that you know what you’re getting. Once you find a varietal you really like, try different vintages and vineyards versions of it, you’ll be surprised how much it can vary!