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.
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.
Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Chops with Charmoula + Pinot Noir
An earthy Burgundian Pinot Noir is likely to have both warm and savory spices.
We paired this one with a sauce that includes cinnamon and smoked paprika, as a bridge to the entire spectrum.
Chilled Corn Soup with Seared Scallops and Crisp Onions + Chardonnay
Fresh summer corn is one of slightly buttery Chardonnay’s dear friends. We’ve stacked the deck here with two others—
tender scallops and caramelized onions, which echo the sweet toastiness in the wine.
Halibut Tostadas + Pinot Gris
Creamy-textured Pinot Gris loves meaty fish like halibut, but it also has a crisp acidity that is a great counterpoint to fried foods like tortillas.
That citrus zing keeps up with the marinade and spices in these tostadas too (consider it a lemon wedge on the side).
Photo by James Carrier
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.
Baja Fried Fish Tacos + Dry Riesling
If you remember Riesling as a syrupy-sweet starter wine in the 70s, give it another try now!
Crisper and drier, it’s an incredibly interesting food wine ― cutting through fried foods like our favorite fish tacos and bringing enough citrus to the match to act like a spritz of lime.
Recipe: Baja Fried-Fish Tacos
Halibut Salad Sandwiches + Unoaked Chardonnay
When it’s not fermented or aged in oak barrels, Chardonnay shows off its bright, lively apple, pear, citrus, and/or tropical fruit flavors big-time.
One of the many versions out now that ditched the oak would be a fresh sip with this unusual sandwich.
Recipe: Halibut Salad Sandwiches
Grilled Chicken Thighs + Merlot
Red wine with red meat is safe, but who wants to be safe all the time?
The smooth cherry-and-chocolate personality of Merlot serves meaty chicken thighs well, especially if you add sweet peppers and fresh herbs.
Tequila-Marinated Chicken Fajitas + Chardonnay
Set out fajitas, and people might be thinking Corona or margaritas.
Shock them instead with a good Chardonnay, with enough crisp citrus to handle orange- and lime-marinated chicken with lots of onions and sweet peppers.
Double Salmon Burgers + Pinot Noir
Pinot loves salmon, no matter what form it takes. Put the fish in a burger, and the wine’s juicy berries still set it off.
And since many Pinots have an earthy, smoky edge, a salmon burger from the grill has an even better chance of being the perfect Western partner.
Recipe: Double Salmon Burgers
Thomas J. Story
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.
Recipe: Best-Ever 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.
Pepper Steaks with Balsamic Onions + Cabernet Sauvignon
Sometimes you just have to give in to a cliché: What could be better than a good steak and a glass of Cab? Only a good steak coated with crunchy-hot pepper and loaded up with tangy balsamic onions.
Tandoori Shrimp + Riesling
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.
Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks with Miso Butter + Nebbiolo
Big, tannic, red Nebbiolo needs a cut of beef that’s both flavorful and marbled with fat. Rib-eye’s your steak for this one. And the miso butter on ours adds a remarkable savory bridge to the wine.
Meyer Lemon–Crab Salad + Chardonnay
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.
Recipe: Meyer Lemon-Crab Salad
Herb-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs + Zinfandel
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.
Recipe: Herb-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs
Leo Gong (Food Styling: Randy Mon)
Chicken and Corn Summer Chowder + Chardonnay
Corn and Chardonnay are such an inspired pair, they can get you through the whole summer.
Find a Chard that’s bright with lemon flavors and crisp enough to work well with the other veggies in our chowder yet buttery and rich enough to thrive with the bacon.
Recipe: Chicken and Corn Summer Chowder
Leo Gong; Styling: Dan Brecker
Warm Steak Salad with Marinara Sauce + Cabernet Sauvignon
What’s not to like about Cab and steak?
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.
Frito Pie with Red Chili + Petite Sirah
In spite of its name, Petite Sirah isn’t little, and it’s not Syrah. A hearty wine, often with big textures (it can have tannin in spades) and deep fruit, it’s a match for casual, big-flavored foods.
We love it with retro ground-beef chili piled onto Fritos, with all the fixings.
Recipe: Frito Pie with Red Chili
Tangy Lemon-Cucumber Chicken Salad Croissants + Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc is one of those wines that makes you want a glass in the middle of a hot summer day, so a sandwich is called for to match.
Our croissants filled with chicken salad seasoned with plenty of lemon and herbs make the most of Sauvignon Blanc’s green herb and citrus personality.