The only thing more stressful than hosting a dinner party is choosing which wine to pair with the meal. Ric Reed, owner of Ric’s Wine Market, shared some of his top tips for wine pairing and selection so you can avoid any potential wine faux pas at your next dinner party.

Common Food Pairings

Steak dinner:
Red Wine (Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, etc.)

Roasted chicken and potatoes:
White wine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Gavi, etc.)

Baked salmon:
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

What is some general wine pairing advice you have for wine novices?

Wine is a very subjective topic as well as one’s personal taste. The more you expose yourself to it, the broader your taste becomes. I always tell my customers to frequently try new things. When you find one that interests, you find more about it: the grape, the vintage, the location it came from, and the winemaker. There is a lot to digest with wine, but it’s not as complicated as it sounds. As far as pairing goes, that is also subjective to the person’s experience and taste.

Chocolate and red wine is a classic pairing. What kind of red wine is best?

Yes, chocolate and red wine is a delight, and my favorite is Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by Merlot and Syrah, but I’ll never turn down a good red blend.

Is there a general rule of thumb for picking a wine at dinner?

Red meat pairs with red wine. White meat pairs with white wine. Don’t let price dictate what wine you select, because expensive wines may not fit your palate.

At what temperature should certain wines be served?

When serving wine, the rule is room temperature for reds and slightly chilled for whites. I serve my wines around 50-55 degrees initially, but the temperature will rise slowly. With whites, it’s normally 45-55 degrees, any colder and the flavors are masked so you don’t get the nuances of the grapes. All the wines at my shop are kept at 72 degrees. That way, I get the flavors and, if any, the faults of the wine.

What are your top recommendations based on a low-to-high budget?

As far as pricing, remember it’s up to the individual’s taste. Not all expensive wines are good, and not all inexpensive wines are bad. I have some $10 bottles that taste as good as some $20-$30 bottles, but typically you can get a good bottle of wine in the $15-$25 bottle range. In my shop, I have bottles ranging from $9 to $300 and, in my opinion (and many of my customers), they are all good!