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Wine & Food Pairings
and Hospitality Tips

If you find a Pine Ridge Vineyards wine you love, pairing it with a flattering dish at home will make you love it all the more. A good food match complements a wine’s aroma, structure, and fruit. The wrong dish can overwhelm a wine or make it seem flat. Follow these guidelines to boost your pairing success:

Wine & Food Pairings
and Hospitality Tips

If you find a Pine Ridge Vineyards wine you love, pairing it with a flattering dish at home will make you love it all the more. A good food match complements a wine’s aroma, structure, and fruit. The wrong dish can overwhelm a wine or make it seem flat. Follow these guidelines to boost your pairing success:

Perfect Pairings:

» Match intensities. Pair light foods with light wines and heartier foods with heftier wines.

» Create a complement or a contrast between the dish and the wine. A complement is like an echo—a similar texture, flavor, or aroma. A velvety Chardonnay with a creamy seafood dish is an example of complementary textures. Now imagine pairing a crisp white wine with fritto misto—a good example of contrast at work.

» Use fat to help soften the tannin in big red wines. Try Cabernet Sauvignon with lamb shanks or cheese to experience this pairing principle.

» The older the bottle, the simpler the food. Older vintages can have delicate aromas; it’s best not to challenge them with robust sauces or seasonings. Young wines can handle more complexity and more spice.

Try these pairings:

Pine Ridge Vineyards Contemplate Red Wine with Lamb Tenderloin with Fig Tapenade

Pine Ridge Vineyards Petit Verdot with Brown-Sugar Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic–Fig Vinaigrette

Pine Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District with Grilled Lamb Brochettes with French Feta Salsa Verde

Pine Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford with Bavette Steak with Cabernet–Shallot Butter and Fava Leaves

Pine Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain with Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Pine Ridge Vineyards FORTIS with Beef Daube Provençal

Susan LassaletteRogue Pairing:

Sometimes you have to take leaps in life. While Chef Susan respects the principles of wine-and-food pairing, she loves proving that our wines can go places guests might not have imagined.

Red wine with fish?
I’ve served monkfish with our Cabernet Sauvignon. I wrapped the fish in speck (air-dried beef) for smokiness and paired it with eggplant—not caponata, but caponata was my guide. Eggplant, tomato, pine nuts, honey. I loved the sweet-and-sour flavor and it worked so well with the Cabernet.

But really, red wine with fish?
I’ll be honest—I think our Cabernets pair best with meat, but it doesn’t have to be beef. Because of the structure and elegance of our Cabernets, they work nicely with duck. And, yes, even certain meaty fish. My personal preference is lamb.

As for vegetarians?
I try hard to give our vegetarian guests the same experience as others. So I’ll take the animal protein away but rebuild the concept around a vegetable. If I do seared scallops with truffle butter and cauliflower purée, vegetarians get the same purée but with sliced and pan-seared cauliflower in place of the scallops. If I’m serving wine-braised short ribs with pumpkin polenta, I might substitute roasted wild mushrooms and a wedge of roasted kabocha squash so vegetarian guests get the same flavors.

Any pairing don’ts?
No asparagus or artichokes around here. And Winemaker Michael really does not like his wine paired with dessert.

Parting thoughts?
The idea that you have to follow rules is crazy. If you personally like a pairing, do it. You’re not going to enjoy either the food or the wine if you’re serving something that’s not true to you.

Hosting Tips

Carolyn Free manages all the special events at the winery. In other words, she throws parties for a living. A former caterer and bakery manager (she has helped many brides choose their wedding cakes), Carolyn is a people person who loves that behind-the-scenes flurry before the guests arrive. A blip in the plan doesn’t faze her. “I find it best to work through whatever problem may arise. Fix it, don’t fight it,” she says.

Carolyn oversees the table settings and meal service at our events to make sure our guests have a memorable experience, with no hiccups. Much of her expertise is relevant to home entertaining too, so here are a few tips from Carolyn to make your gatherings successful and stress free.

Wine storing and serving
Store wine bottles on their side to keep corks moist. Choose a cool, dark place; a temperature of 55° F is ideal, but it’s more important to avoid fluctuations.

Serve rosé chilled, right out of the refrigerator.

Remove white wines from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving. Their aroma will be more enjoyable if they are not completely chilled.

Serve red wines at cool room temperature, about 65° F.

With today’s generously sized wine glasses, you don’t need to fill the glass halfway. Start with a three-ounce pour and top up as needed. A bottle of wine provides a three-ounce pour for eight guests.

For an informal gathering or family-style meal, keep it casual. Open a white wine and a red wine and encourage guests to serve themselves. Pine Ridge Vineyards Chenin Blanc + Viognier and Pine Ridge Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon are flexible wines that can accompany almost any menu.

For a more formal dinner, welcome guests with an apéritif wine, such as Pine Ridge Vineyards Rosé. Depending on your menu, a richer white wine like our Pine Ridge Vineyards Chardonnay should be appropriate with the first course of salad, soup, or seafood. With the main course, switch to red wine, such as Pine Ridge Vineyards Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. Some hosts like to open two vintages of the same wine so guests can compare. If you’re having a cheese course after the main course, save your finest wine for that—a perfect moment to open a bottle of Pine Ridge Vineyards FORTIS.

When to decant
Older wines are sometimes decanted to separate out any sediment. Younger wines are sometimes decanted to aerate them and enhance their aroma. Because the objectives are different, the decanting methods are different.

For an older vintage (10 or more years), stand the bottle up a day ahead in a cool place to allow any sediment to fall to the bottom. Then pour the wine slowly into a tall, narrow decanter, tilting the decanter so the wine falls gently down the side and the sediment is left behind. Serve the wine immediately to minimize exposure to air.

For a current-vintage red wine, use a wide-bottomed decanter if you have one. About 30 minutes before serving, pour the wine briskly into the decanter and give it a vigorous swirl to aerate the wine.

Table-setting tips
Keep competing fragrances away from the table. “I never use scented candles,” says Carolyn, “and I choose flowers without a strong scent. I also keep centerpieces low so they don’t impede conversation.”

Carolyn uses linens, flowers, and water glasses to set the feel of her table. “I like to choose a color story for my table, but I use it sparingly,” she says.

Iron napkins and linens several days before your party and stash them away in a safe spot.

Set your table the night before. This will give you time to polish your silverware and glassware without being rushed.

Pull out and organize all your serving pieces and trays the day before. “We use Post-It notes to label each platter,” says Carolyn.