Social Occasions

Wine and food have complemented each other for thousands of years. Wine comes into its own at the dinner table thanks to its moderate alcohol, refreshing acidity, and sheer range of flavours. It is worth knowing some successful pairings of food and wine that have stood the test of time.
Social Occasions
With food
The general rules of wine and food matching still apply. It is often wise to select generally food-friendly wines (see In Restaurants), as guests are then able to enjoy one wine with all the canapés and different courses served.
Without food
In general, wines to be enjoyed on their own should be light and unpretentious. For parties and social events where no food is on offer, steer clear of anything too full-bodied and avoid high acidity or powerful tannins. Also take the time of year and weather into account.
In summer
Choose crisp, refreshing wines like Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and other cool-climate, relatively low-alcohol whites. You could also go for light, fruity reds suitable for a brief chilling. Basic Merlot, and Pinot Noir are good choices.
In winter
A medium-bodied wine, whether red or white, focusing on bright, fruity flavours and avoiding lots of oak. Good bets are Semillon, unoaked Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc. Reds such as Cabernet-Shiraz or Cabernet-Merlot blends are also highly enjoyable at this time of year.
At celebrations
Champagne and traditional-method sparkling wines are the classic choices. Champagne tends to be expensive, so is generally only an option for those with a bigger budget. Many Californian sparkling wines make excellent substitutes, however, and are normally a better choice to use in cocktails such as buck’s fizz.
In Restaurants
Many top restaurants have a sommelier to offer diners advice on wine. If no sommelier is on hand, there are a few types of wine that are good with most foods. If you are all ordering different dishes, half bottles can help everyone get something to complement their particular meal.

  • Opt for medium-bodied styles, avoiding extremes. For whites, unoaked Chardonnay, Semillon, Pinot Gris, or Sauvignon Blanc are the most versatile. Among the reds, Pinot Noir, inexpensive Merlot, or a fruity Cabernet-Merlot blend are excellent choices.
  • If the restaurant focuses on a particular nationality or style of cooking, try and choose wines of the same nationality.
Vegetarians and vegans should note that gelatin, isinglass (made from fish), and egg whites are sometimes used to fine (clarify) wines

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