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Somm 101

Food and Wine Pairing Basics from Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

Article by Emily Wines, Master Sommelier

Photography by Provided

Originally published in Centerville Lifestyle

How do you serve wine at a big meal, especially if it is multiple courses? There are some good guidelines to follow in terms of wine pairing and sequences that will show off your incredible meal and the wines in the best way.

A new Cooper’s Hawk location is open at 5220 Cornerstone North Blvd. in Centerville. Emily Wines, master sommelier and vice president of Wine & Beverage, shares her tips for wine pairing at home.

Start with an aperitif. Stay away from high alcohol or powerful flavors. This is the reason Champagne is so often a starter. A wine that is refreshing with lower alcohol and high acidity will make your mouth water. That, in turn, prepares you for the meal to come! With each successive course, you ideally want to build in body with both wine and food. Lighter, crisper whites with salads to start followed by richer whites with seafood. Finish with reds if your menu calls for it. If you happen to be doing an all-seafood menu, don’t feel like you can’t do red! Light red wines like pinot noir can actually work quite well with seafood. This is particularly true of heartier fish like salmon or tuna. If you prepare them with heartier flavors like mushroom, bacon, dark beans or red wine sauces, they are better with red.

In Europe, the cheese course is always served after dinner, before dessert. Cheese is so versatile; it can really go before or after a meal. Light cheeses like brie or chevre are good with white wine while hard or aged cheeses like aged gouda or cheddar are better with reds. So, consider your cheese selection based on where you want it with your menu. With dessert, you want your wine to be just as sweet as the dessert, if not sweeter. Light, fresh fruit desserts are good with lighter sweet wines like moscato while anything involving caramel would be better with Cooper’s Hawk Lux Ice Wine. Chocolate-based desserts are great with Nightjar!

One final note is about serving temperature. Ultimately, you are the judge on how you enjoy wine the best, but to get the best flavors out of your wine, you neither want it too warm or too cold. The flavors in white wine can be suppressed if it is too cold, and reds that are too warm become volatile or give you a little burn in your nose. My rule of thumb is to put red wine in the fridge half an hour before dinner and pull white wine out!

There is nothing more festive than a table full of wine glasses, wine and convivial guests. Learn more about Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants at