We’ve all heard that phrase when friends or family invite us over for dinner. It makes choosing a wine sound so simple, yet it can be so daunting. What are they expecting? Will the wine be served that evening? Will the wine pair well with the meal?
Before we get started, we should go over a few basic rules:
- Beef, lamb, and game meats usually demand a red wine.
- If the food is light and delicate, the wine should be, too.
- For most other foods, both the right red or white wine will pair well.
Since red or white wines can work for most occasions, I suggest you bring both red and white wines. And, most importantly, try to bring a wine the hosts will really enjoy. Remember, you want them to enjoy the wine as much or more than you. With that in mind, I take the approach that the best wine to recommend to my customers is the one I think they’ll like the best-not necessarily my favorite. The last experience you want is to find your hosts cringing while you’re licking your lips.
Below, I’ve outlined a few different categories of wine drinkers. If you can’t figure out what will appeal to your hosts, you can always take the safe bets at the end.
- Loves Reds: Cabernet, Shiraz, and Pinot Noir are hot. Try Cabernet and Shiraz for those who like it strong and Pinot Noir for those who crave subtlety. Recommended: Hess Estate Cabernet, D’Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz, and Amity Pinot Noir.
- Loves Whites: While Chardonnay is still the queen; Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are coming on strong. Try Chardonnay for food lovers and Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio as a greeting wine. Recommended: Two Tone Farm Chardonnay, Girard Sauvignon Blanc, and Villa Borgo Pinot Grigio.
- Loves Sweets: Riesling and Moscato are the undisputed champions of sweet wines. For food lovers, try a sleek German Riesling or buy a refreshing semi-sparkling Moscato from Italy for dessert. Recommended: Merkelbach Riesling Spatlese, Sar-acco Moscato D’Asti, and Donhoff Riesling.
- Hard to Please: For the picky and the jaded, buy something really unusual. Look for exotic blends, obscure labels, and grape varieties you’ve never heard of before. Recommended: Elyse Aka Zinfandel, Foppiano Sonoma Petite Sirah, Michael David Incognito Viognier, and Chambers Muscat.
- Safe Bets and Good Values: Pick easy-to-drink and popular wines. Chardonnay, Merlot, and Rosé are great choices. Recommended: Hess Select Chardonnay, Bogle Merlot, and Garretson "Celeidh" Rosé. AA!