Fine Wines Are Part of Every Great Meal

Fine Wines Are Part of Every Great Meal

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Image: Kamil Kalbarczyk-Unsplash

Among the many joys in life is finding a quiet little restaurant with great food and a selection of fine wines. For some, this may mean a local eatery with wonderful chocolate desserts big enough to feed the entire table and plenty of flowing champagne. Others may find their local steakhouse that cuts their own meat and cooks it perfectly to specifications every time enjoyed with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon is the answer to a spectacular meal. And then there are those who prefer a seafood dish delicately prepared and accompanied by their favourite white wine, perhaps a Riesling or a Chardonnay. Many other favourites are out there because everyone seems to have a different opinion about their best meal experience.

For some, thinking of a meal means choosing a type of cuisine such as Italian, Mexican, American, Indian or Chinese. Well, guess what? Each and every one of these cuisines have specific types of wine that are customarily served and enjoyed. It’s as easy as sitting down at a dining table and looking over the menu or wine list. Usually, the preferred wines are listed near the top or in a section of wines from the particular country on which the restaurant’s food is based. And if you are visiting a particular country it’s even easier. Just ask your waiter for the wines recommended by the restaurant. Usually, the common wines in stock will be the local varieties.

While restaurant dining is what most people think of when they want a nice dinner and wine experience, it is certainly not the only choice available. Some enjoy cooking and are exceptionally skilled at preparing delicious and unique dishes. Even for those who prefer not to cook, these days it’s easy to find mail-order gourmet services that will ship amazing meals ready to cook to your doorstep. Other alternatives include having a personal chef stop by your home to prepare an expert meal to your specifications. Whatever option you choose, don’t forget to stop by your local wine shop and pick up a selection of fine wines to go with your fabulous meal.

Something that tends to confuse many beginning or infrequent wine drinkers is what particular food and wine combinations are appropriate. There are a number of so-called rules when it comes to choosing a particular type of wine to drink with a certain dish. And to further complicate things, some wines are more appropriate before a meal while others are better suited for drinking after a meal. It can all be so complicated to the beginner that they give up and order a soda instead of having to make the dreadful wine choice and appear foolish. Basically there are a couple of ways to deal with this dilemma and ultimately overcome the fear of ordering wine.

The first way to overcome the fear of ordering wine is to become educated. Now, gaining an education in wine will involve some time and work as with anything you set out to learn. A good place to start is the library.  Look for books and magazines about wine and get to work reading them over. If you find that your library has limited resources concerning current wine information, take a trip over to your local bookstore to check out the magazine racks first. Many of the larger bookstores have numerous magazine selections about nearly any topic of interest and they should have several on the topic of wine. Still another source of information is the internet. Do search on wine and see what you can find. With a bit of time invested, you’ll know a lot about the various types of wines and feel more like an expert than a beginner in no time.

Although learning about wine is probably the best approach to becoming comfortable with it, there is another alternative.  A fast approach would be to just ignore your fear and start ordering. Ask yourself if it really matters if someone else thinks you have made a poor selection. If your wine selection doesn’t work with the food you ordered, try something else next time. After a bit of trial and error, you’ll be selecting wines that go well with your meals. The main thing to remember about food and wine combinations is that the food should make the wine taste better than it tastes when consumed by itself. 

French wines are in a class of their own. It wouldn’t be difficult to base an entire holiday around a visit to France to taste many of the wonderful French wines offered by this country.  In fact, most people think of France and wine in the same thought. Who can imagine walking past a sidewalk cafe and not seeing a bottle of the country’s best on each table?  And there is no better mid-day meal than a bottle of wine, a loaf of French bread, some cheese and fruit to satisfy the appetite. There is no doubt that wine and France have a history and the country produces some of the finest, if not the finest, wine in the entire world.

With all of the vineyards and various wineries in France, both big and small, nearly every type of wine is different depending upon the winemaker. Of course, that is all part of the charm and allure making wine production much more of an art than a science. Most of the diversity comes from the many choices a winemaker must make when producing their wine. First, they must choose a type of grape and a setting for their vineyard. Of course, many times this choice has already been made as they probably already own their vineyard. The climate in their area has an impact on production as well as the ideal harvest date in their particular circumstances.  

Additional considerations that can impact the qualities of wine include the type of container used during the fermentation process, the related temperatures and actual length of the fermentation period. Another variable is the type of container used during the maturation phase which is usually some type of cask or barrel. Among the most popular wine regions in France are Champagne, Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire and Rhone. Just hearing the names of these fabulous locations can make you want to hop on a plane and take a wine tour.  Of course, a quicker way to get nearly the same feeling is to flip on the travel channel, grab a bottle of one of your favourite French wines and relax. 

If you’re looking for great German wine, give Riesling a try. One of the oldest and best types of wines available today is German wine. Although wine has been produced by Germany for a great number of years and has a long history, wine production methods have developed and progressed along with the times. The country is known in particular for its white wine which comprises the majority of the total wine production each year. Of course, the country also produces red wine but in much lesser quantities than the white varieties. It is interesting to note that over twenty per cent of Germany’s entire wine production consists of a single type of grape, the Riesling grape.

With such a large part of production invested in Riesling wine, it comes as no surprise that this type of wine is perhaps the best-known and most popular of the wines produced in Germany. Although other countries also grow Riesling grapes and produce this type of wine, none seems to compare to the German variety. This is due in large part to the soil and environmental conditions found in Germany. It is a well-known fact among wine students that grapes take on characteristics of the soil and other surroundings so depending upon where a grape is grown, the same type of wine can vary greatly in the finished product.

Speaking of grape growing conditions, Germany has the perfect backdrop for vineyards and winemaking. Most of the vineyards are located in the southwestern part of the country in nearly ideal conditions.  Imagine a piece of the countryside, with Riesling and other types of grapes growing on the either slope or in valleys, almost always with a river flowing nearby and you have the perfect beginnings of a great wine. That describes most vineyards in Germany. Because the Riesling grapes, in particular, have a longer ripening period which allows for a more developed aroma and greater balance to the finished wine, Germany is the perfect setting to make this grape even better. Whether you choose to try Riesling or one of the other outstanding selections of German wine, be sure to add wines from this country to your shortlist of favourites.