It's considered polite to bring a gift for the hostess when you are invited to a dinner party. The perfect hostess gift is a gift of wine to accompany the meal. Unfortunately, if you are not a wine enthusiast you may feel a bit lost when deciding which wine to bring. This article will give you the information you need to choose a wine gift that will be appreciated by both the hostess and the other guests.
The first thing to keep in mind when choosing a wine to go with a meal is that you need to match the weight of the wine to the weight of the food served. No, I do not mean for you to serve 6 oz. of wine with a 6 oz. filet mignon. When referring to matching weights, I mean that you should present light wines with lighter foods and more robust wines with heavier foods.
The second thing to keep in mind is seemingly contradictory to the last concept but you also need to have contrasting elements between your wine and your food. This means choosing things that will balance each other. For example, serving a dry red wine with the afore-mentioned juicy filet mignon. The dryness of the wine and the juiciness of the steak will play off each other, enhancing the enjoyment of both.
Tannins are substances found in wine, especially in red wines. These substances are perceived as a dryness in our mouth. Wines have differing amounts of tannins so will go with different dishes. Any wine that is high in tannins (sharper in taste) will pair well with red meats, cheese and buttery dishes. The animal fats in those foods will soften the dryness caused by the tannins.
Saltier foods should always be paired with wines with a high acidity level. The salt mellows the acidity of the wine while the acidity of the wine balances the saltiness of the food. Seafood dishes will pair well with wines like Sauvignon Blanc that have high acidity and crispness of flavor.
When serving spicy foods, try serving a sweeter wine like Chenin Blanc or Moscato d'Asti. The slight sweetness of these wines will tone down the heat of the spicy foods. Never get a dry wine for spicy foods as the dryness will intensify the heat of the spices.
Another pairing that makes both the wine and the food more enjoyable is by serving a wine with a high acidity level with foods that have a high acidity level. Although it sounds like it would intensify the sourness, instead the acid in each tends to neutralize each other.
If you don't know what foods will be served, you may want to go for a more neutral or universal wine gift. Some wines have just the right combination of acid and fruitiness that they complement many different types of foods. Two choices that would be appropriate in these circumstances would be the Pinot Noir and a nice dry Riesling white wine. Both are paired easily with a wide variety of foods.