Wine Advice: Food and Wine Pairing

Food and wine pairing can be challenging, although much less challenging when selecting food and wine pairings for a single meal than pairing for an event where a variety of different foods and wines are served, while also considering various preferences and palates.

Planning events comes with a certain degree of stress. Current commitments often leave limited time for planning and some gatherings offer little notice. Hiring a sommelier for guidance with food and wine pairing and selection and a caterer for menu selections, supplies and service, simplifies planning, lessens stress and ensures hosts have time to participate in and enjoy the occasion.

Benny’s has years of catering experience and numerous menu selections to choose from, ranging from appetizers to multi-course dinners, including dishes suitable for all dietary restrictions and preferences. In addition, Benny’s is licensed for both indoor and outdoor events and has the necessary supplies such as tableware, napkins and stemware.

The best wines for events are those suitable for pairing with an array of foods and the majority of palates. In my experience most hosts work within a budget, budgeting an average of $15.00 per bottle. Suitable wines are available for all budgets so select quality wine without compromising taste.

Some guests prefer white wine some red so ideally select one of each. White wine pairs better with lighter dishes and most appetizers while reds pair best with heavier dishes, beef and game. Some hosts include sparkling wine, a rosé or both sparkling and rosé. Sparkling wines are often served to guests upon arrival and used to toast an occasion. Champagne costs can be considerable so choose sparkling wine such as Prosecco or Cava and wines made from the traditional winemaking method as they are generally far less costly. Rosé has gained a significant following and is recognized for its broad pairing potential.

The best quality for value wines are most often the wines made from certain grape varieties from select areas and countries such as Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Chile and New Zealand. Look to delightful and refreshing white wine such as Pinot Grigio from Italy or zesty, mouth-watering and palate cleansing Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Red wine from Portugal remains largely undiscovered and many of these full-bodied earthy and dark-fruit laden wines are made from Port grapes, grape varietals often unrecognized and wrongly avoided. Chile is known for value wine, especially Cabernet Sauvignon.

When calculating wine requirements, the time of day and day of the week should be considered as consumption varies with more wine consumed in the late afternoon, evening and on weekends. The time of year is also a factor as more sparkling wine, white wine and rosé is consumed during the warm summer months while more red wine is consumed during the fall and winter seasons. Also consider your guests preferences.

Once wine selections are made be certain adequate stock is readily available and purchase additional bottles for fear of wine faults, breakage and higher than anticipated consumption. Most, if not all, wine stores allow wines to be returned so long as the bottle has not suffered any damage and the label remains intact. Check each stores policy prior to purchase.

Kate Wagner Zeke, Sommelier(ISG)
Certified Specialist of Wine, Certified Wine Educator(SWE)