The right wine (and we’ve tried a shocking number) takes fresh flavors to an all new level
1 of 28Annabelle Breakey
Spiced Short Ribs + Petite Sirah
Don’t be fooled by the name. First, Petite Sirah is anything but little. It’s a deep, dark bruiser of a wine—a stain-your-teeth-purple kind of wine. Petite Sirah is no cocktail wine—it needs hearty food alongside. Pull out a deeply flavored dish, like these Spiced Short Ribs, with enough protein and fat to coat those tannins, and you’ll taste what all the excitement is about.
2 of 28Thomas J. Story; prop styling by Bianca Soleto; food styling by Karen Shinto
Asian Duck Wraps with Hoisin Dipping Sauce + Pinot Noir
Duck is always a good starting point with the bright red fruit of Pinot Noir. But with a riper, sweeter-seeming California Pinot, we’ve matched a sweeter sauce and the warm range of spices included in Chinese five spice.
Lamb Chops with Moroccan Barbecue Sauce + Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc is a very aromatic cousin to Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the five Bordeaux grapes, it has almost always been blended in with one or more of the others ― until now. Coming on strong on its own in the West, it has an exotic combination of florals and spices that make a great foil for Moroccan flavors and pungent lamb.
A juicy burger deserves a juicy wine: Zinfandel’s your bottle. And its sweet, ripe fruit seldom comes with hefty tannins, so it can handle all the tangy, spicy condiments you care to pile on the patty.
Best-Ever Chinese Chicken Salad + White Meritage (Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Blend)
In France’s Bordeaux region, a white wine is a mix of mostly Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon ― two grapes that balance each other well, the Sauv. Blanc bringing tart citrus and earthy minerals to the table, the Semillon rounding them out with a little creaminess and sweet pear.
As it turns out, the result tastes great with many Chinese dishes, including our favorite chicken salad.
Yellow Squash and Split Pea Soup with Shrimp + Chardonnay
With its creamy citrus and buttery side, Chardonnay has an uncanny affinity for squash (both summer and winter). It’s also often a great texture match for legumes. We capitalize on all of that here ― plus its partiality for sweet seafood ― in a summer soup made for Chard.
Few wines go with as many foods as crisp, aromatic Riesling does.
The pungent herbs, garlic, chiles, and Indian spices here would intimidate most other varieties. Not a slightly off-dry Riesling, though, with delicate peach and apricot flavors and exotic floral aromas.
Dungeness crab and Chardonnay are a perennial treat. The sweet fruit flavors a Chard offers keep step with the sweet shellfish, and the wine’s typical butteriness ― which can get in the way for some foods ― is an asset with crab.
Choose a Chardonnay with a bright lemon profile to echo the Meyer lemon juice in this salad. And if you find one with a hint of tropical fruit, you’ll have a link to the sesame oil in the dish too.
Pork ribs and Zinfandel are one of summer’s best pairings ― and an all-American one, since Zin is as close to a native grape as we have: While it traces its roots to eastern Europe, no one in the world does Zin like California winemakers.
We’ve shamelessly spiked our homemade barbecue sauce here with the wine to lock in the match.
We’ve dressed this steak down for summer with sauce and greens, so find a Cabernet that’s not so ripe that it’s lost its natural acidity (so it can handle the tomato) and one that has an herbal layer as well, to offer a bridge to the arugula.