Cabernet Franc
(Loire Valley, France)
Best Food Wine Style:
Pale colored with
brisk acidity, lean mouthfeel and lightly
grainy tannins.
Aromas & Flavors:
Soft-stemmed herbs,
fresh-cut firewood, blueberries, plums,
wild blackberries.
Top Food Matches:
Fowl (pigeon, par-
tridge, pheasant, Cornish hen), Porto-
bello burgers, mole-marinated flank steak
Reliable Brands:
Bernard Baudry, Cath-
erine & Pierre Breton, Olga Raffault.
Why This Works:
Loire Cabernet Franc
shows a rusticity that seamlessly works
with earthy or umami-heavy foods. Lifted
acidity keeps the palate refreshed.
MEDIUM-BODIED REDS
Chianti / Chianti Classico
(Tuscany, Italy)
Best Food Wine Style:
Medium-bodied,
bracing acidity, sandy tannins, well-struc-
tured mouthfeel.
Aromas & Flavors:
Red cherry, fresh cran-
berry, underbrush.
Top Food Matches:
Spaghetti à la Bolog-
nese, baked cheese-stuffed shells, bistecca
Fiorentina, pizza.
Reliable Brands:
Antinori, Badia a
Coltibuono, Castello di Ama, Fontodi.
Why This Works:
Highly structured by
acidity and tannins; the wines are so
refreshing that they usually require food.
Tempranillo
(Rioja, Spain)
Best Food Wine Style:
Often pale in
color and medium-bodied with balanc-
ing acidity, dusty tannins and a plush
mid-palate.
Aromas & Flavors:
Mulberries, strawber-
ries, leather, tobacco leaves, dill.
Top Food Matches:
Baby lamb, potato
stew with chorizo, mushroom empañadas,
Manchego cheese, lentil stew.
Reliable Brands:
Baron de Ona, Marqués
de Murrieta, Conde de Valdemar, Ostatu.
Why This Works:
Often moderate in acidity
and in body with gentle tannins, Rioja
works broadly with succulent foods.
FULL-BODIED REDS
Cabernet Sauvignon Blends
(Napa & Sonoma, California)
Best Food Wine Style:
Full-bodied with
mouth-filling fruit, high acidity & strap-
ping tannins.
Aromas & Flavors:
Blackberries, cassis,
eucalyptus, bell pepper, cedar.
Top Food Matches:
Prime rib, ribeye, beef
chili, venison.
Reliable Brands:
Beaulieu Vineyard, Clos
du Val, Heitz, Jordan.
Why This Works:
Cabernet Sauvignon has
the brisk structure to clean the palate of
dense and fatty foods. Its full-on flavor
works best with robust food.
Mourvèdre / Monastrel
(Bandol,
France; Jumilla & Alicante, Spain)
Best Food Wine Style:
Full-bodied with
elevated alcohol, broad and sometimes
aggressive tannins, sinewy texture in
French wines and voluptuous texture in
Spanish versions.
Aromas & Flavors:
Full-bodied with
elevated alcohol, broad and sometimes
aggressive tannins; sinewy texture in
French wines and voluptuous texture in
Spanish versions.
Top Food Matches:
Steak fajitas, braised
short ribs, meatloaf, Peking duck (Span-
ish only).
Reliable Brands:
Domaine Tempier,
Château de Pibarnon; Bodegas Juan Gil,
Primitivo Quiles.
Why This Works:
This grape’s leather
quality lends well to red meat pairings.
French wines tend to show firm tannin,
while Spanish wines are softer.
n
Christy Canterbury is one of seven female U.S. national
Masters of Wine and an author, speaker and wine judge
based in Manhattan. Previously she was the National
Wine Director for Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group
and the Global Beverage Director for Culinary Concepts
by Jean-Georges.
WINES FOR
CASUAL FOOD
This being modern America, lots of
people, by necessity and/or choice, eat
rather simply and casually. Chances
are good that many wine shoppers are
hunting for something to serve with
dinner tonight—and they are probably
not cooking pheasant. With that reality
in mind, here is a flip-side view of the
“food wine” concept—starting with
some American staples. In these sce-
narios, simple is often best, and there is
still considerable flexibility. These basic
dishes also represent an opportunity to
look really smart when your customer
comes back again (and again) because
what you suggested was great with
whatever was on the table that night.
FOOD
WINE
Salad
Pinot Grigio; Sauvignon
Blanc; rosé
Quiche
Dry Riesling or other light
white wine; rosé
Spaghetti
&
Meatballs
Medium-bodied Italian
red like Chianti
Creamy
Pasta
Italian white wine with
good acidity (Soave,
Vermentino, Orvieto)
Burgers
Côtes du Rhône,
Merlot, Zinfandel or
other medium-bodied red
Salmon
Hefty white (Chardonnay
or Viognier) or light red
with soft tannins (Pinot Noir)
Grilled
Cheese
Fruity red like Pinot Noir
or Nero d’Avola
Meatloaf
Medium-bodied Merlot-
or Cabernet-based blend
Sausages
Full-flavored Syrah, Rioja,
Malbec or Zinfandel
Roast
Chicken
Spanish red; or crisp white
like Sauvignon/Fumé Blanc
Chinese
Take-Out
White with good fruit
and acidity; off-dry
styles often work well
(Riesling, Chenin Blanc)
Pizza
Barbera, Valpolicella or
practically any Italian red
Vegetarian Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon
Blanc; fruity but not tannic red
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Profiles for “Orange” Wines, Montepulciano, Merlot blends, Syrah, Madeira and Tokaji.
Food
Wines
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