As your guests arrive for dinner you can start them off with some light hors d'ourves and a glass of sparkling wine or Champagne. A cheese and meat platter is a great way to start or also fresh bruschetta. You should choose a dry Champagne or sparkling wine over a sweet one because they will pair better with light dishes. For example, Freixenet Sparkling Cordon Negro Brut Cava is a perfect way to start off the meal. It is a sparkling wine from Spain and is fairly dry, which will work great with a variety of cheeses and meats. Legras Brut Rose Champagne is also a good way to go. Its crisp flavor will help stimulate the palette and prepare your guests for the meal to come.
As you move to the appetizer or salad course pair a refreshing and crisp white wine. Sauvignon Blanc is a terrific choice because it will not overpower a light antipasto or raw shellfish, but compliment it. Sauvignon Blanc typically has a fresh, fruit flavor and evokes the feeling of spring. Try an Australian Sauvignon Blanc for something a little unique. Groom Sauvignon Blanc Adelaide Hills South Australia, is a great choice for a salad or raw seafood dish.
To make the transition to the heavier main course wine, pair your next course with a light red wine. If you are doing a soup course or a pasta course then choose a wine that is not so bold, but more light with a moderate body. Nebbiolo or Pinot Noir are two great options, as both tend to lower in acidity and have medium body. Again, try not to overpower the food, but compliment it. If you are unsure of what pairs well with what then do a taste test of the wine with the food to find similar, complimenting flavors. Virna Nebbiolo d'Alba or Andrew Rich Willamette Valley Pinot Noir are both good choices and will hold up to a hearty soup or spring pasta dish.
For a classic ham or lamb entrée you should choose a wine that holds up to the heartiness and meaty flavor. Syrah (also known as Shiraz) or Cabernet Franc are two nice options or you can go totally unexpected and pair a bold white wine (white works better with ham then with lamb) like a Riesling. Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz works great with lamb and don't be fooled by the name, it has a perfect balance of sweetness and body. Wolf Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc pairs well with both lamb and ham. It has a full body and robustness that brings out the flavors of you main dish. If you would like to go the white wine route then choose a Riesling that is not super sweet like Daniel Schuster Waipara Riesling has subtle fruit flavors which bring out the flavors of the ham. Again, try a taste test of a few different wines to make sure to get it right.
To end the meal on a sweet note pair your dessert with a sweet Port or Ice Wine. Try not to pick a super sweet wine which will be sweetness overload for the taste buds. Dow's Fine Tawny Port is a classic choice because it is sweet, but not too sweet and is fairly dry. It has fruity and nutty flavors, which compliment fruit pies and dessert cheeses nicely. Vidal Ice Wine is also a nice choice because of its honey and citrus flavors. Ice wine can be difficult to find because it has to be made in the perfect conditions with the perfect frozen grapes but it is worth the search if you can find it.
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