Wine Pairing 101: Look Like an Expert To Your Date

Ordering wine with your meal adds an air of class and sophistication in a way that no other drink can. The fermented drink brings a new layer to the dinner and can complement it beautifully…but this is only the case if you know how to order the glass and/or bottle. Simply asking for wine might impress your date if they’re a novice, but that’s a huge risk to take. Instead, prepare for the meal you plan on having and arrive at your table having studied wine pairing 101 and look like an expert to your date. The ever-changing menu at NOJA in Mobile might make studying ahead of time seem difficult; in reality though as long as you understand the type of wine that complements a type of food, you’ll be ready to peruse the menu with the confidence of a sommelier.  

  • Cocktail Hour
    • Sauvignon Blanc is a beautiful white wine that can stand on its own, making it perfect for a pre-dinner glass. If you prefer red and would like something with a bit more weight, ask for a Pinot Noir.
  • Pairing with Beef
    • Pinot Noir also works well with beef due to its versatility. It works with many different cuts of beef but pairs best with a rare steak or Beef Wellington type dish. It compliments vegetables as well so if your plate includes root plants and mushrooms, fill your glass with Pinot Noir.
    • Cabernet Sauvignon is considered the most popular blend on the market. As such it is well represented on wine menus, providing a variety of options to accompany your meal. The high alcohol and tannin count means it should also be drunk with food and pairs best with a heavier plate. The tannins also create a dryness; while this brings out the oak and dark fruit notes, it also means the meal can stand to be juicy for balance.
    • Merlot has come into its own over the years, with the soft tannins giving it a reputation as a wine which pairs well with dishes that rely on a sauce. Braised beef, beef that is included in pasta dishes, etc.
  • Pairing with Fish
    • Champagne doesn’t have to just be for the toast. A glass of the bubbly only enhances the taste in a lean and flaky fish like bass or tilapia. It also pairs quite nicely a fish that is a bit meatier like tuna or salmon. The same applies to Pinot Grigio.
    • Sauvignon Blanc is more than just a cocktail drink but also works well with food like fish. It is versatile enough to work with a variety of seafood dishes and any sauvignon blend is a safe bet for white meat.
  • Pairing with Vegetables
    • Just as Pinot Noir compliments a beef plate that is dished with vegetables, the earthy flavors of the dark wine can hold up a meal consisting solely of vegetables as well.
    • Chardonnay carries a subtle sweetness that seems destined for a vegetarian meal. While heavier meals outweigh the soft tones of a chardonnay, vegetables instead sit well with the tannin count. Pair the drink with produce such as beans and peas, corn and zucchini. During the harvest months, it also complements those fall foods such as pumpkin and squash.
    • Sparkling and Riesling carry a high acidity that couples with grilled vegetables (like a tempura style) and roots such as beets.  
  • Dessert
    • Riesling is the original sweet wine and one that has been the dessert juice of choice. The innate sweetness in a late harvest means it is beautiful with any sort of chocolate.
    • Champagne provides the cherry on top of a perfect meal…and works with one too. The airy notes of the bubbles make it an excellent choice to chase down a fruity custard or light mousse.
  • Fail Safe
    • When all else fails, ask for the house wine. There should be both a red and white and they are usually ones that contain a low tannin count making them versatile with whatever dinner you choose.

Dinner works best with a bottle on the table. Make sure it’s the right one though with these tips on wine pairing 101 to look like an expert to your date. We look forward to seeing and serving you the perfect combination at NOJA.

Noja is a Mediterranean-Asian restaurant in the heart of downtown Mobile with an ever-evolving menu. Call us at 251-433-0377 to make a reservation today then visit at 6 N. Jackson St.; Mobile.

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