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Wine-Pairing Basics: No-Fail Wine and Sauce Matches

To pick the right wine match for a dish, think about the sauce. F&W’s Kristin Donnelly finds the best jarred sauces in a massive taste test, then Ray Isle goes on a pairing spree.

Related Pairings:


Aioli

Great as a dip or a spread, the Delouis Fils aioli is creamy and nicely garlicky. $7; igourmet.com.

Rosé

Wines that have light, fresh acidity lift the flavors of olive oil–based sauces like aioli. The 2007 Chateau Grande Cassagne Rosé ($13, above) is a great one.

Plus: Rosé: Underrated or Overhyped?

Thai Curry

© Wendell T. Webber

Thai Curry

Coconutty, with mellow spices, Thai yellow curry from Trader Joe’s is terrific with chicken. $3; Trader Joe’s.

Chardonnay

© Gregor Halenda

Chardonnay

Coconut milk–based curries need a big white that can stand up to their potent flavors. Seek out the lush 2007 Girard Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($24).

Plus: Best American Chardonnays $15 & Under

Peanut Sauce

© Wendell T. Webber

Peanut Sauce

Thai Kitchen’s Peanut Satay Sauce is a perfect balance of sweet and savory. $5; thaikitchen.com.

Off-Dry Riesling

© Gregor Halenda

Off-Dry Riesling

Sweet sauces go best with slightly sweet wines, like the 2007 Hogue Cellars Genesis Riesling ($16)—and, in turn, make the wine taste refreshing.

Plus: Great Value Rieslings from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

Tikka Masala

© Wendell T. Webber

Tikka Masala

Creamy tomato-based curry from Seeds of Change is mildly spicy. $3.50; seedsofchangefoods.com.

slideshow Easy Indian Recipes

Pinot Noir

© Gregor Halenda

Pinot Noir

Moderately tannic, fruity wines like California Pinot Noir pair well with rich sauces. Try the 2007 La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir ($25).

Marinara

© Wendell T. Webber

Marinara

Tangy marinara from the famed Rao’s in NYC tastes homemade. $17 for three 15.5-oz jars; raos.com.

Plus: America’s Next Great Italian Restaurants and Their Simplest Recipes

Sangiovese

© Gregor Halenda

Sangiovese

Italian reds tend to show a bright acidity that matches well with tart ingredients like tomatoes. The 2006 Toscolo Chianti Classico ($20) is superb.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

© Wendell T. Webber

Balsamic Vinaigrette

SchoolHouse Kitchen’s peppery dressing is fresh-tasting. $14 for two 12-oz bottles; schoolhousekitchen.org.

slideshow Great Green Salads

Sauvignon Blanc

© Gregor Halenda

Sauvignon Blanc

Wines with zesty citrus notes have the zing necessary to balance tart vinaigrettes. Look for the 2007 Franciscan Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($17).

Black-Olive Tapenade

© Wendell T. Webber

Black-Olive Tapenade

Tenuta di Ferento’s Merlano line includes a richly flavored black-olive spread. $9; olio2go.com.

Zinfandel

© Gregor Halenda

Zinfandel

Foods with deep, earthy notes go best with red wines full of substantial, ripe fruit, such as the berry-rich 2006 Dancing Bull Zinfandel ($12).

Plus: Wine 101: Zinfandel

Published March 2009
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