The Rules of Wine

Allison Goodan

Hopefully by now we have all learned one particularly important lesson of life.

Everything you think you know may not always be true. Everything you are told is not always right. Sometimes you have to figure things out for yourself.

It is a fact of life, folks. So let me get you in on another secret.

Seafood, poultry and cream-based sauces should only be paired with white wines, while tomato-based sauces and red meats should only be paired with red wines. It is that simple.

Not! You have been misinformed. I told you this would happen.

Palate is not that simple. Everyone’s tastes are different. Every person on the planet doesn’t share in common their favorite dish being goulash, do they? We all pick up on different tastes in food just as we do the smells and tastes of wine.

Now of course the traditional ideas about drinking wine with food can serve as a good guideline — an extremely bold Zinfandel paired with a delicate creamy dish may not be a match made in heaven— but don’t follow these ideas as a rulebook. The more dishes you try with a particular wine, the more you will learn about what you prefer. You may surprise yourself.

One day I was using up vegetables in my fridge, and decided to make an herbed carrot soup. It was an odd new dish for me, so I didn’t think that anything other than water would pair well. I took a bold guess though, and to my delight, a semi-sweet Riesling, Kung Fu Girl Riesling, was a match that I will never forget. The wine had hints of crisp apple, light peach and pear, which married perfectly with the fresh herbs and sweet, earthy carrot.

And in case you were wondering, the entire “white food should only be paired with white wine” was stomped out by Pinot Noir. A Pinot goes beautifully with salmon and roasted chicken. As for red wines paired with red food — an oaky Chardonnay pairs well with a juicy steak.

But what about the match for a bacon barbecue pizza? Beer only, right — no way a wine could go with that? Try a Champagne.

The rule is that there are no rules —you get to figure it out on your own. The point is to experiment, have fun and learn what you like. This is college, after all.