These Are the Wines That Pair Well With Everything, Says a Sommelier
Here’s a hostess hack we can get on board with: stop stressing about which wines pair perfectly with the food you’re serving. How? According to Jamie McLennan, the wine and beverage director at Café Marie-Jeanne in Chicago, wine pairing is a lot less intimidating than many assume.
The easiest way to pair wine with food is to think about the region that your food—or wine—comes from. If you’re eating tapas, for instance, consider a Spanish wine like Albariño or Rioja. Pair rich French food, like beef bourguignon, with a full-bodied French wine, like Merlot or another red Bordeaux.
That being said, there’s an even easier way to ease the art of wine pairing. “Simply select and serve wines that pair well with the widest variety of foods,” says McLennan.
Here are his picks for the most versatile wines that you can drink all day—and pair with endless delicious dinner dishes.
"Bubbles are often my personal go to when pairing with a wider range of plates," McLennan says. "Whether one prefers more traditional bottlings like Champagne or the wilder PetNats or Ansestrale Methode sparklers, both often surprise me in the way they can heighten your senses and elevate the flavors on the plate. From omelets to oysters, sparking wine is often best."
"Not every wine I select has loads of acidity, though over time I’ve noticed that the ones that do are most commonly the favorites around the cafe," McLennan says. "Acid cuts through fat giving wines with higher acidity levels more versatility when looking to pair them. I’ve always preferred acid-driven wines and when I’m tasting for the restaurant it’s usually a wine that inspires the thought of a menu item past or present that will make the list. A couple of my favorites right now are Loire Valley Chenin Blanc and Beaujolais Rosé."
Sugar / Sweeter Wines
"It still boggles me to hear so many people scoff at the idea of drinking something sweet," McLennan says. "Balance is key. If we’re talking about sweet wine, it has to have enough acid to level it out but also the combination of acid and sugar make for the best pairing one will ever try. It’s not every day that we get the opportunity to taste old Riesling with dry-aged beef and porcini mushrooms, but if the opportunity arises, you’d be a fool not to give it a shot."
"Orange wines come from white grapes that are vinified like a red wine, meaning the juice stays in contact with the skins for an extended period of time lending the wine a darker color and a bit more tannin," McLennan says. "The savory nature of these wines helps them stand up to foods that most whites can’t, though they can still be enjoyed with pork sausage and pancakes."