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Perfect Pairings: A Beginner's Guide to Matching Food and Wine

A great wine can enhance any meal. Yet, many of us feel overwhelmed trying to pick the perfect vintage to complement a course. Instead, we play it safe and relegate ourselves to a few generic red vs. white rules. However, finding the right wine doesn't have to be hard. In fact, it can actually be fun to play the pairing game if you consider a few simple tips when planning your menu.

Chardonnay
Chardonnay touts a medium-body, rich with buttery undertones. You may also detect a spectrum of fruit essences including apple, peach, pineapple and even pear. Its multi-layered flavor makes it an excellent choice for a wide range of foods and cooking methods. Seafood, poultry, and butter/cream sauces go well with this varietal. However, this white pairs also well with red meats like beef and lamb, especially when grilled, making it a great universal option in the summer.

Riesling
A lighter-bodied white, Rieslings deliver notes of honeysuckle, stone fruits and apples, which heightens flavors in dishes including cheese, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Serve it on alongside pears, melons, Havarti and Gouda cheeses, sweet potato dishes and candied pecans for a first course your guests will love. Or wait until dessert is served and offer Riesling with pies, pastries and cheesecake.

Pinot Noir
A lighter red wine, Pinot Noir flaunts a tasting spectrum that includes cherries, strawberries, flowery notes and a smoky undertone. This medium-bodied varietal offers a smooth finish that can work with virtually every course on your menu. Starting dishes of goat cheese, Brie and dried fruit; entrees of chicken, lamb and filet mignon; or even a decadent crème brulee are all perfectly paired with Pinot Noir.

Zinfandel
This wine often gets a bad rap due to its pink-hued variety. However, a red Zinfandel delivers bold flavors drenched in black pepper, blackberry and raspberry spices. This medium-to-heavy-bodied red works well with meals that offer a little kick: think Cajun dishes, pepper sauces and anything you want to smother with hot salsa. This wine also enriches meals like ribs, roasted meats and even duck. If you prefer to save your spice for dessert, a Zinfandel proves an ideal accompaniment to carrot cakes and gingerbreads.

Champagne
While some may argue that champagne goes well with everything, some fare seems even more perfectly suited for this sparkling wine. Made from Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay grapes, Champagne delivers crisp, citrusy notes, and a dry to sweet finish. Lobster, shrimp, crab and sushi are all complemented by a glass of bubbly. Desserts such as almond cookies, chocolate-covered strawberries and fruit tarts also strike a seamless balance with champagne.

Visit Isle of Capri Boonville for Our June Wine Dinner

When it comes to wine pairing, practice makes perfect! Come to Isle of Capri® Boonville on Saturday, June 18 for our Summer Wine Pairing at Farraddays'® Bistro. Tickets are $35* and offer a great way to learn even more about the art of matching food and wine.

*Taxes and gratuity not included.

Sources:
http://www.foodandwinepairing.org/food_pairing_board.html
http://www.kj.com/pairing-by-varietal
http://boonville.isleofcapricasinos.com/

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