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A Wine Strategist's Guide to Pairing

Shelley Lindgren of San Francisco’s SPQR has the world’s most sensible wine-drinking philosophy: Pour good, inexpensive bottles on weekdays; pricier, more complex bottles on weekends; and exceptional bottles once a month. Here’s how to follow her advice, with fantastic recipes to match from SPQR chef Matthew Accarrino.
Everyday Wine Pairings: Braised Chicken with Apples and Calvados
Photo © Con Poulos.

Simple Recipes + Satisfying Wines for Weeknights

Mondays through Thursdays, Shelley Lindgren pours what she calls “weeknight wines”: tasty, inexpensive bottles that she often buys by the case. They go well with SPQR chef Matthew Accarrino’s easiest dishes, like a braised chicken with apples. Lindgren knows Italian winemakers who take her everyday strategy even further: “Some will say, ‘This is our lunch wine; this is our dinner wine.’”

Everyday Wine Pairings: Curried Lamb Potpie
Photo © Con Poulos.

Inspired Dishes + Intriguing Wines for Weekends

On weekends, Accarrino experiments; he makes dishes that take some time but allow him to master a technique. For instance, he’s perfected the flaky crust that tops his excellent curried lamb potpie. Likewise, Lindgren makes a point to try unfamiliar, intriguing bottles and will spend hours browsing in wine stores for labels she doesn’t know.

Everyday Wine Pairings: Cannelloni with Walnuts and Fried Sage
Photo © Con Poulos.

Ambitious Food + Jaw-Dropping Wines for Once a Month

“Even people in Barolo don’t drink Barolo every day,” says Lindgren. She reserves spectacular wines for a monthly splurge. As a food pairing, Accarrino makes exceptional beef cannelloni.

Everyday Wine Cheat Sheet

Here, a fast guide to wines that SPQR’s Shelley Lindgren drinks on weekdays ($10 to $20 a bottle), weekends ($20 to $40 a bottle) and once a month ($40 to $100 a bottle).


Daily: Prosecco
The ubiquitous aperitif in Italy’s Veneto region.

Weekly: Cremant d’Alsace
Creamy in texture and tart in flavor.

Monthly: Champagne
Complex and delicate.


Daily: Albariño
Minerally and citrusy, from Spain’s northwestern corner.

Weekly: Verdicchio
An impressive noble Italian white from Italy’s Le Marche region.

Monthly: High-end Gewürztraminer
Lindgren “geeks out” to the most refined European bottlings, with their incredible range of flavors.


Daily: Southern Rhône Reds
Lindgren especially loves Grenache-based Gigondas for its versatility and robust flavors.

Weekly: Tempranillo
“This Spanish red has it all: fruit, grace and power,” says Lindgren.

Monthly: Barolo
A potent wine from Piedmont, made from Nebbiolo, one of Italy’s most illustrious grapes.

Video: Expert Wine Pairing Tips

Published October 2012


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