One of the more complicated parts of designing your wedding menu is figuring out what wine goes best with your dishes. "When paired correctly, there are wines that can bring out the flavor of food and make it taste better," says Alison Awerbuch, Partner and Chef at Abigail Kirsch. "But if you don't have a proper pairing, then it can actually make the food taste worse."
We asked Awerbuch to explain some essential rules of wine pairing to help elevate your reception dining experience.
1. The basic rule of thumb is that lighter wines go with lighter foods and heartier wines with heartier foods. So if you're serving a chicken dish, choose a white wine (chardonnay), a rosé, or a light-bodied red wine (zinfandel or Grenache). On the flip side, a steak goes better with a full-bodied cabernet, bordeaux, or burgundy.
2. During the reception, start with lighter wines and work your way to heavier wines as the meal progresses For example, start with champagne, then sauvignon blanc, then pinot noir, then cabernet, and finish with port or another fortified wine with dessert. This rule also applies even if you're serving only the same color wines.
3. Pair simpler wines with complex food so that the wine doesn't compete with the dish.
4. Pick out wines that have universal appeal since you are entertaining guests with varied palettes. Steer away from anything too sweet, too full-bodied, or too acidic. Speak with your caterer for advice on popular wines or go to a reputable wine store and discuss with their staff expert.
4. If a dish includes a wine in the preparation, pair the same or similar style of wine with the food.
5. When it comes to bubbly, think about at what time during the wedding the sparkling wine is being served because it will impact the type/varietal you want to offer. A sweeter/fruitier champagne is appropriate with dessert while a lighter, drier champagne pairs better with a shellfish starter. Do not select sparkling wines by their prices — it is the taste that matters.