Wines and food are the best of companions; when properly chosen, each is capable of bringing out the finest qualities of the other. While wines are bridges across which one flavor can enhance another, its versatility also allows it, when served alone, to complement a quiet evening or moments of friendly conversation. Just as we know food is available in many flavors and styles, wines, too, are available in many varieties, each with its own unique characteristics. In this article, our own Santa Barbara wine tours specialist will offer some of the best tops on matching the right wines to the right food. There are numerous rules, unwritten and written, that govern the selection of wines for a particular food. The simplest of these is, as you probably already know, whites varietals with white meat, reds with red meat, and rosé pretty much with anything. While the rules do exist, the most important thing should be fitting your own tastes. A person is more apt to enjoy a label if he or she chooses what they like and not what tradition dictates. There are several reasons, however, why it is a good idea to understand the established criteria for selecting wines. Some of these traditions are based on centuries of experimentation and therefore deserve your consideration.

To our minds the first and foremost rule is that wines which precedes or accompanies a meal should be as dry as your taste preferences allow. According to one of our Malibu wine tour specialists: a dry variety tends to perk up your appetite and bring out the flavors of food. A variety with noticeable sweetness has the opposite effect on the appetite and often does not harmonize as well with the main course. A sweet variety is really at home with dessert; it is here, with sweet fruit or cakes, that its lush flavor can best be appreciated to the fullest. People who definitely prefer sweet wines to dry ones may compromise by selecting a medium-dry one to accompany their meals, at least until they may be converted to the drier varieties of wines. One motive for serving white ones with white meat and reds with dark meat is the esthetic value of the complementary colors. More importantly, a reason is that fish and fowl tend to be light meals, consistent with the choice of light-bodied white wines, while steaks and roasts are more robust meals and deserve the company of a full-bodied and rich red. Southern California wine-tasting is offered in many variants. We offer for instance great tasting trips to areas such as the Santa Ynez- and Santa Maria Valleys, the Malibu Canyons, as well as Temecula and various other SoCal vineyards and tasting-rooms. We are also a top rated provider of LA limousine service including LAX sedan services and also our new Los Angeles to Las Vegas limo trips!

Seafood, however, is more sharp than heavy. A more acidic variety helps to soften any excessive “fishiness” that may be present in the meal, and for this reason, crisp white variety is usually the best selection. In France they often serve cheese for dessert, and many believe that the best red of the evening should be reserved for the end and served along with cheese. They feel that cheese brings out the best in a red and that a fine red brings out the best in the cheese. Here in the U.S. this rule is often ignored or forgotten, and white wines are almost exclusively served with the lighter cheeses. As a general rule, white meat such as chicken or turkey pairs great with whites such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Dark meat such as steak or duck go well with medium-bodied reds, such as Pinot Noir or Zinfandel. Lamb, veal, and also ham are what may be considered in-between dishes, and here personal preference is foremost. Our own tastes run along the line of a light red, like a Gamay, with lamb and veal, and perhaps a (very) dry rosé with ham. Lamb and veal are often prepared with wine-sauces, and in this case a bottle of the same table-wine used in the cooking is a preferable choice to accompany the meal, says our Malibu wine tour specialist.

Much is written about the selection of wines to accompany an Italian meal such as spaghetti, pasta, pizza, or lasagne. When such a variety is recommended it is more often than not because of its name (Chianti, Barbara, Grignolino) than because of any more rational criteria. Chances are that any low-priced red will suffice with these meals, for while their highly distinctive seasonings add much to their flavor, they can only blunt the finesse and character of a fine Pinot Noir, Cabernet, or other premium wine. Remember the varieties that usually appeal to your tastes, and don’t forget those that have disappointed you in the past. When selecting wines in a restaurant, try to match the variety with the entree. Decide whether a white, red, or rosé would compliment the food in the best way. If in doubt, or if two or more people are ordering very different dishes, choosing a rosé variety is an easy way out. As one becomes more familiar with food and wine comparisons and pairings, the task of matching one to the other becomes easier. American Luxury Limousines are also proud to offer not only the top rated vineyard-tours, but also the best rated LA limousine service as well as LAX sedan services.

The basics:

1) Pair with the same sweetness level. The wines should always be equal to or higher in sugar than the meals. An example could be roasted pork that accompanies Riesling in a great way.
2) Pair by color. Light wines compliments light food; deeply colored wines go great with rich foods. Sauvignon Blanc pairs for instance very well with citrus fruit.
3) Pair by the similarity in flavor. As mentioned previously, similar wines and foods complement each other to the fullest. An example could be sole with lemon sauce and Sauvignon Blanc. Both of these have citrus flavors and bring out the best in one another.
4) Pair by the similarity in texture and weight. Wines and food can be anything from light, medium or heavy-bodied. An example of great pair could be Chardonnay and lobster. Both of these are medium weight and also rich so they go very well together. 

5) Pair wines with the sauce. If the meal is served with a sauce, you could rather pair the sauce and wines, rather than the main dish. Meat sauces for red meat go great with Merlot, Cabernet, or Syrah. Mushroom or creamy sauces are great with Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. A light-colored citrus sauce pairs with Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.

6) Watch out for salty or spicy food. Keep in mind that sweeter wines will offer relief from spicy food. Riesling is always a great choice when for instance enjoying spicy Indian cuisine. In the same way, crisp wines balance salty flavors - Sauvignon Blanc balances for instance salty feta cheese or olives.
American Luxury Limos of Ventura County, based in Thousand Oaks, CA, have offered exclusive and customized Southern California wine-tasting trips for more than fifteen years. Our tasting-trips often go to areas such as the Santa Ynez Valley-, Santa Maria Valley-, and Santa Barbara wine tours. Others include our Malibu wine tour served so often by our LA limousine service, Temecula Valley, and other parts of the great vineyard-country found in Southern California. Our staff is available 24/7, 7 days a week. Feel free to check out our websites at to learn more about our services, now also including our brand new Los Angeles to Las vegas limo offers.
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