Chef Kristine's pairing basics

In ideal order of service:

SAUVIGNON BLANC, SONOMA COAST (reception wine or first course) This is a versatile wine, ideal for aperitif during reception or starter courses. Shows lively varietal fruit character, very little oak. Pairs beautifully with chevre, tarragon, lemon thyme, poultry recipes, pistachios, shellfish, light cream sauces. Lots of fun with “tamed” ethnic recipes- mild Thai sauces (peanut), mild curries, and some Mexican ingredients (sauces with toasted cumin, very mild green chilies).

ROUGE DE NOIRS BRUT, CARNEROS (first course / amuse wine) Pairings are similar to a dry brut Rose, even though it is darker in color with more skin contact than a Rose. This bubbly highlights the more delicate flavors of Pinot Noir. Pairs well with toned-down Asian flavors, smoked seafood, lighter pates, “sweeter” herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, medium-weight cheeses (including milder blues). Also nice with classic Manchego cheese and quince paste. Note: this wine is fruity but it is NOT sweet (very low dosage sugar), so we recommend pairings be limited to savory dishes and not with dessert. Ideally served during a seated course rather than during a reception, to better allow the winery representative to present and describe it to the guests.

CHARDONNAY, CARNEROS and CHARDONNAY, “SCHUG ESTATE” Both wines are rich in texture; show modest oak components and long bright finishes with good acidity and minimal malo-lactic. Wonderful when paired with French dishes and sauces, these wines sing with rich recipes. Try seafood, cream soups, some pates (rillettes), lemon thyme, thyme, roasted garlic, Chanterelle mushrooms, caramelized onions, and mild, creamy Thai flavors (coconut-based soups, sauces…little or no heat).

PINOT NOIR, CARNEROS and PINOT NOIR, “SCHUG ESTATE” Fuller bodied, excellent with most grilled ingredients (vegetarian recipes, too). Excellent with so many cuisines (Mediterranean, Mexican, Asian, Southwestern), try with: lamb, duck, beef, chicken, tuna or salmon, mushrooms, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, dried cherries, roasted beets, plums, fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme). NOT recommended with desserts.

MERLOT, SONOMA VALLEY and CABERNET SAUVIGNON, SONOMA VALLEY Medium- to full-bodied reds, ideal for rich cheeses, nuts, rich sauces (demi-glace). Both wines are “Bordeaux blend” styles with lots of big, intense fruit but also a savory element and plenty of acidity which need fats and richer dishes to mellow their youthful tannins. Try some dried ingredients (tomatoes, cherries), wild mushrooms, olives, game meats, grilling some or all ingredients. Desserts NOT recommended due to the higher acids, though if needed the Merlot may work with dark chocolate, mocha, dried cherries, nuts and minimal amounts of sugar. We recommend a cheese course pairing to finish the evening!

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