Perhaps because wine lovers in movies always seem so pretentious, many of us are intimidated about pairing food and wine when dining out. However, the right selection can truly round out your dining experience, so it’s worth the time to learn a few basics, then relax and bon appétit!
The “Safe Bets”
Of course, if you remember that white or rosé types generally pair best with chicken and fish, and reds with pork and steak, you’re already ahead of the game. If you’re selecting a mixed-meat entree or a vegetarian one, frequently a heartier type of dish will be rounded out by a red, while lighter fare is lovely with a white or rosé.
Thankfully, if you don't have your preference among those broad categories, a few wines are considered to be universally good pairings with any entree, whether it’s pasta, roast beef or poached salmon. Sparkling wine or Pinot Noir are both acclaimed for their subtle balance of fruitiness and acidity, which seems to adjust to suit any order.
Finally, look to see if your wine list features descriptions of individual selections. Different grape varieties tend to mimic other fruits upon fermentation. So if you like to cook, you probably already have a sense of how fruits and meats are often combined — plums with duck, apples with pork, citrus with fish and so on. Therefore, if you’re having a hearty lamb dish and notice that a red entry on your wine list is described as boasting undertones of apricots and figs, that selection may well be a promising choice.
Concerned About Price?
You’re not alone if you worry about the cost of that bottle of wine pushing your special evening beyond its budget. The Alcove spells out its per-glass and per-bottle prices directly on its extensive list, as do many eateries. But even when you’re dining somewhere in which some or all of the prices aren’t clear, don’t be afraid to ask. After all, you wouldn’t go into a hardware store not checking whether a fixture is $35 or $135, so don’t ruin your special meal by fretting about a hundred dollar mistake.
Put Yourself in Expert Hands
Ironically, it’s often the most knowledgeable wine enthusiast who will be the first to ask the restaurant staff for a recommendation. That’s because wine lovers know that food and drink are meant to be a shared enthusiasm, not one in which diners are “on trial.” So don’t be afraid to ask your wine steward or server questions.
Helping our diners find the perfect complement to our expertly-prepared meals is certainly our guiding philosophy at The Alcove Restaurant & Lounge. Feel free to ask our friendly staff about great pairings from our wine and beer list to go with lunch and dinner, or even dessert, menus.