A sommelier’s guide to wine pairings

A sommelier’s guide to wine pairings
DINE TO WINE | Summer brings with it a selection of wines which do justice to the various delicacies of the season

Dry rose`s are a happy medium between white and red wine and usually pair well with most dishes

When the weather turns hot and sultry, you know the season of fresh and light food has arrived. If you are eating out, the combination of salads, seafood and grilled items paired with some great wine can balance things out. There are crisp, lower-alcohol white wines which are antidotes to sweltering days and sultry nights and they complement summer staples such as salads and grilled fish. Yet summer is also a season for ribs and steaks on the grill that are served with robust red wines. On the other hand, dry roses are a happy medium between white and red wine and usually pair well with most dishes.

Merlot paired with roasted lamb rack

Merlot paired with roasted lamb rack

Dividing on the basis of food you like to pair it with, I suggest a mellower Merlot or an Italian Nebbiolo while ordering grills. It also goes well with those who prefer fruity hints in their wines. Cabernet, if that’s your standard palate preference, will also give the meat a hand up.

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Temperature is another important thing to be kept in mind while serving wine in summers. Make sure the reds are not too warm and whites not too cold which loses the fruit.

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If chicken, pork chops or fish is served and you are bent on a bottle of red, then a Merlot or Pinot Noir would be a safe bet. For white wine afficionadosChardonnay will perk up chicken and grilled fish (shellfish included). Sauvignon Blanc is also a star for pairing with grilled veggies, chicken, fish and an array of appetizers.

Meanwhile, while ordering salads, the game gets a little tricky as salads are notorious for giving wines a run for their money, in large part due to the acidic vinegar-based dressings or the oil vinegar combinations used for salad dressings. In such cases, Sauvignon Blanc and Rose wines are perfect. Pinot Grigio can also come to the rescue of several salad offerings, especially a chef’s salad with egg, ham or bacon as the main protein components. If you have to tackle a Caesar salad, consider a Chardonnay or perhaps a Prosecco. For a salad topped with a creamy Ranch-style dressing, again reach out for a Chardonnay.

2005 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz – Barossa Valley, Australia

2005 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz – Barossa Valley, Australia

Temperature is another important thing to be kept in mind while serving wine in summers. Make sure the reds are not too warm and whites not too cold which loses the fruit. For best results put the red wine in refrigerator 15 minutes before drinking and keep white wine refrigerated and take it out 15 minutes before serving to bring out the fruit. Stick to wines which have a lower alcoholic content (12-14%) as they are typically lighter and made for easier drinking. Keep things light, fun and happy as that’s what summers are all about.

Here are my top picks from our wine list for summer:

Wines Grapes Price (Rs)
2006 Domaine Leroy ,puligny montrachet les charmes (French) Chardonnay 20,500
2008 henri bouillot ,batard montrachet grand cru (French) Chardonnay 42,000
2007 Domaine Louis jadot Clos vougeot grand cru (French) Pinot noir 30,000
2008 Gaja barberesco (Italian) Nebbiolo 38,000
2003 Domaine Leroy savigny le beaune 1er cru les ratausses (French) Pinot noir 22,900

The author, Hanuman Singh Rawat is an Assistant Restaurant Manager and sommelier for the internationally renowned San Gimignano at The Imperial New Delhi. He also represented and won the first Indian sommelier championship back in 2008.