As a Master Sommelier, I know it’s not always necessary to splurge on the most expensive wines. To stay on your entertaining game, you need to know how to pair wines and how to pair food and wine in order to create a unique experience for your guests. Below, I give you some suggested wines to identify you as being a true Power Entertainer who is up on the latest trends in wines.
1. Prosecco from Italy/ CAVA from Spain
Everyone feels special when you start with bubbles and you can achieve this very reasonably ($10-20) with these sparklers. Prosecco is slightly less bubbly and CAVA offers great value. One of my favorites is Segura Viudas Reserve that sells for $19.00 this one always hits the mark and the bottle is stunningly packaged.
2. Grüner Veltliner from Austria
Here is a versatile “food-friendly” white that is quite popular with us sommeliers. Good ones to identify themselves with a distinct “white pepper” nose. Most of these can be had for less than $20.
3. Dry German Rieslings
Not all Rieslings are sweet. Some of the best food wines I know are the “dry-style” Rieslings labeled Halbtrocken (semi-dry) and Trocken (very dry). If you want to sample some of the best of these you simply have to go to www.trulyfinewines.com Ask them to ship you a sampler 6 pack and you will see what I mean. Very reasonably priced!
4. Torrontés from Argentina
Here is a delightful wine that hasn’t yet been widely discovered and offers great value (less than $15). The Torrontés grape reminds me of Viognier with its hints of peach, flowers, and orange. Ask your retailer for ones with vibrant acidity and your guests will be impressed.
5. African Sauvignon Blanc
On a recent trip to South Africa with my fellow Master Sommeliers I was quite impressed with the style of Sauvignon Blancs I saw in this region (sort of in between New Zealand’s racy acidities and fuller bodied Loire Sancerres). Serve these and you will stand out!
Let’s Not Forget the Red Wines:
6. Portuguese Reds from Douro region
These are my style wines (delicate, feminine, and balanced) and ideally suited for food. If like me, you are tired of those over-oaked, alcoholic, highly extracted food-killers that dominate so many retail shelves then these are for you. Start with the reds from the Douro region where the blend is from Tinta Amarela, Touriga Francesa and Tinta Roriz vines. If you like finesse you will see what I mean.
7. Chinon and Bourgueil from the Loire Valley (France)
The Cabernet Franc-based wines express themselves so well due to their high acidity. If you are not familiar with them go to www.kermitlynch.com. Once there, sign up for their newsletter as it will keep you current with his ever-changing selection of French and Italian country wines. Kermit Lynch (Berkley, Calif.) is an artist in discovering lesser known wine from France and Italy. You all deserve to explore his “great value” portfolio. Put him in your favorite’s folder.
8. Malbec from Argentina
Here are crowd-pleasers who are looking for massive reds at great prices. Great with any char-grilled meats. One of my favorites is El Felino by Paul Hobbs winery in Mendoza at around $19.00
9. Tarriquet 2007 “Cote” Gascogne
Want to be controversial? Do you think that many chardonnays lack sufficient acid? Do you think many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are off the charts with their acidities? Then maybe you ought to try Tarriquet 2007 “Cote” Gascogne (50% Chardonnay; 50% Sauvignon Blanc) At around $12.99 I think it is worth a try… low alcohol (12.5%), slightly spritzy), a great aperitif wine.
10. Domaine Sigalas from the island of Santorini, Greece
This white wine made from Assyrtiko grapes is steely dry with vibrant minerality making it a perfect accompaniment for shellfish at a very affordable price.
Not only are these wines, great values, but they also offer you ammunition to Power Entertain. Anyone can do a Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot or Pinot Noir party. You don’t want to look like anybody, do you? So, insert the element of surprise, raise your entertaining bar and be in the 1 % of executives who practice this.
If your local retailer doesn’t have these wines, they can order them. If that isn’t possible, then you simply go the website: www.wine-searcher.com… it’s free. Simply enter the wine you are looking for with its vintage and up will pop a dozen or so offerings from around the US that are sitting on shelves waiting for you.