Picking the right wine

When I am handed a wine list, or given the menu options for dinner at home along with the question, “What wine are you going to open?” my brain immediately ponders pairing options.


Partly because learning to choose the best wine for a meal was drilled into me while taking wine classes years ago, but mostly because choosing a good beverage enhances the experience. Wine, beer, cider, or a signature cocktail or mocktail.

Have you every wondered why pizza and beer are a near-perfect match?

After a bite of pizza laden with cheese and delicious fatty goodness, your palate needs to be refreshed. The bubbles in beer get you ready for the next mouthful.

Sparkling wine and a chicken pizza with a creamy Alfredo sauce? Give it a try.

Flatbread with grilled fruits and dots of a mild goat’s cheese or brie? Bring out a refreshing cider.

There are classic pairings that follow one of two basic rules: choose flavours that complement each other, or that contrast.

Complementary: buttery Chardonnay with buttery popcorn.

Contrast: stinky cheese with port.

With spring comes the challenge of pairing green veggies, and the one vegetable that commonly ends up on lists of food that you should never pair with wine? Asparagus.

Side note, Brussel sprouts, artichokes, and kale get a bad rap, too.

But, if you’re getting into salad mode or are planning on foraging for fresh asparagus, consider a sauvignon blanc, a crisp sparkling wine, or even a dry cider.

Some tips for pairing:

  • Foods with intense flavours pair best with intense wines. Exception: some spicy foods, especially Asian dishes, work best with Riesling or Gewürztraminer to cool down your taste buds.
  • When in complete doubt, try to pair meats with a wine similar in colour. Big reds for red meat. Pink salmon with a light Pinot Noir.
  • Think about what pairs with the sauce on a dish, not just the protein being served.
  • Red wines with delicate seafoods and shellfish can leave an unpleasant metallic taste on your tongue.
  • In a pinch, Dry rosé will pair with almost anything. Including borscht.

And as for a sweet dessert?

That calls for a drink that is either equal in sweetness, or a complete contrast. Or maybe just a sip of a late harvest wine while the end-of-dinner tea is steeping.


April 12-13, Penticton: Okanagan Fest of Ale. Sip on a selection of over 200 quality crafted beers, ciders and cask ales in the unique indoor/outdoor venue.

April 13-14, Lake Country: Taste Lake Country along the Scenic Sip Trail.

April 16, Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek: Communal Table Dinner, Fermentation. Discover another 

Now through May 11, Quails’ Gate: Enjoy High Tea Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.


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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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