Food-Friendly Wines

Champagne and Sparkling Wines

I’m a big fan of these all year round, not just at weddings and funerals. You can start just about any meal with a glass of bubbly, and don’t forget that there are various kinds and ‘stages’ of sparklers – Prosecco, Frizzante, Cremant, sparkling wine, Charmat-process wine, and genuine Champagne (If you don’t know what these mean, check out the glossary in the FAQ tab). Great with fried and salty foods – Calamari, thin-crust white pizza, and pork rinds. No I am not kidding.


Rieslings are possibly unmatched as a food-friendly wine and, as I hope you know (if not, read more on this site and elsewhere) they run the gamut from bone-dry to very sweet. Try a Kabinett with Moroccan food, say, chicken Tagine with figs and prunes, or B’stilla, the delicious Moroccan pigeon ‘pie’ that is both sweet and savory.

Chardonnay and White Burgundies

Lotsa wine drinkers may revel in saying “ABC: anything but Chardonnay” but this is an outstanding food wine, and it comes in so many styles I promise you there is a dozen for every dish. Chicken with butter or cream sauces, or Coq au Vin are great pairings.


Oysters. Baked, fried or raw. ‘Nuff said.

Sauvignon Blanc

Often intensely acidic, with flavors such as diverse as grapefruit, pineapple, and green pepper, Sauvignon Blanc, sometime called ‘Fume Blanc,’ is a great wine for starters – salads, spinach, vegetables, and a variety of appetizers. And frankly, I think it’s a wonderful pairing for asparagus, which is supposed to be the one “impossible” thing to pair. Hooey.

Rose Wines

One of my oft-repeated mantras, which my friends are certainly tired of hearing, is that Roses are vastly underrated and go with just about anything. My favorite pairings of dry Rose include hamburgers, flank steak, beef and/or vegetable skewers, and Eggs Benedict (if I am out of Champagne) and other breakfast food, especially when it’s served at brunch or later.


The most-planted grape in Italy is a wonderful complement to many foods, and you can find it in an American style. Wonderful with pizza and barbecue, and it won’t overpower the meats and sauces the way that Zinfandels often do, despite their reputation for being “the” wine for barbecue.

Chianti (Sangiovese)

Wonderful with hanger steak, pizza, Tuscan spareribs, lasagna and pastas with red sauce, and great with sausages and Cajun cooking. And try with broccoli rabe!


A true American grape, Norton is native to North America and in some circles known as Cynthiana, which is genetically identical. In any event, this is an All-American! Beyond the history and science, lots of Norton is produced in Missouri and more recently in Virginia, and you can get Norton wines in most big cities and at larger retailers. Drink Norton with fried chicken or chicken with mushroom sauce, and Indian or Thai food that is mild to moderately spicy.

Pinot Noir and Pinot Rose

When you think of Pinot, think Salmon, mushrooms, game meats such as venison and duck, Cornish hens, lamb, and even turkey…lots of families serve Pinot on Thanksgiving to great acclaim! The rose versions are even more versatile and food friendly.

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