At Celebrations we get a lot of phone calls and emails from people wanting to know the best wine to serve with a special meal or event. So I thought this month I would address the differences in red wine and how to best capitalize on each strength.

Pinot Noir
This is a great wine to serve if you have a novice in the group. It tends to not be as dry, though time can change that. Typically they have a black cherry, berry taste. This is a great wine to serve with duck, chicken, or pasta meals.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Tends to be more expensive, but is well worth the cost. Having said that, I’ve found some lower cost cabs that are excellent. Cabernets tend to also be fruity, but are a drier, heavier wine. Maybe not the best choice for someone fairly new to wine. Cab goes great with heavy foods like beef, rich, red pasta dishes, aromatic cheese (think blue or goat), and rich cream sauces.

Merlot
This is also a great beginner wine. It is a fruity wine, but is not too dry, not sweet. One can find it in all price ranges. I’ve enjoyed bottles at all cost levels. Because it isn’t too sweet or too dry, Merlot pairs nicely with just about everything. It’s also a great wine to use for reductions when cooking.

Syrah
This wine is much more for the experienced wine drinker. It is a darker wine and is probably one of the driest wines made. The finish also tends to be heavier, peppery, and spicy. Because it drier and heavy, when you pair it, think juicy or creamy. Go for creamy sauces and grilled, moist foods. Personally, I think Syrah goes great with Italian food, bread dipped in olive oil and an authentic balsamic vinaigrette.

Zinfandel
I always think of Zinfandel as the fun wine. It is the sweetest of all the red wines out there. It is also great because you find some excellent bottles at reasonable prices. This would also be a great wine if you’re serving someone fairly new to wine. It’s also a great wine for a lighter, casual, friend night. Think pizza, spicy Indian food, a spicy lentil stew, or BBQ.

I hope this helps with some of your questions. Next month we’ll do the same with white wines.

Happy Wining my Friends!