Red wines are the favorite choice of many, and the list of options can be rather long. Although most red varietals are produced in California, the quality of each can be superb.

Pairing the right dishes with the correct red wine is the principal challenge, although there can be some leeway. Certain wine varietals may vary in strength, for example, depending on where the fruit has been sourced or how the wine has been produced and aged.

What is Food and Wine Pairing?

Humans have been pairing their wines with specific food items for centuries. The basic premise is that the wine must complement the flavors of the food without dominating it. Similarly, the food is intended to enhance the wine’s flavors, not overwhelm or even negatively affect the taste.

Therefore, a California red wine should neither overpower nor be overwhelmed by the strength of flavor of the food. Well-paired food and wine should be an asset to any meal, and hosts should always be conscious of their choices.

Classic Pairings for Cabernet Sauvignon

California Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, and Bordeaux-style blends possess firm tannins that cut through the fat and protein of rich red meats like lamb and steak. These dishes, in turn, smooth out the wine’s tannins, creating the perfect symbiotic relationship.

Versatile Matches for Merlot

Less robust than California Cabernet Sauvignon but delightfully earthy, the Merlot pairs best with a range of foods, including salmon, tuna, scallops, poultry, pasta, and some mild cheeses. With medium tannin and less acidity, this cooler-climate California red wine complements many foods.

Zinfandel and Spicy Cuisine

A California red wine that pairs nicely with spicy foods like barbeque, spicy sausage, and flavorful Mexican or Cajun cuisine. Think about applying the same adjectives to describe your food offerings and your Zinfandel to create a pairing. Zinfandel offers the “rustic”, “savory”, or “rich” flavors found in barbequed or sauce-slathered meats.

Pinot Noir and Earthy Delights

Earthy yet delicate, Pinot Noir pairs well with grilled salmon, roasted poultry, mushroom risotto, and other less powerfully flavored dishes. The delicacy of this California red wine comes through beautifully with these more subtle flavored choices. Other food pairing options can be risotto with mushrooms as well as simple pizza.

Visit Jessup Cellars in Yountville

A prestigious and popular California red wine producer, Jessup Cellars operates their winery and Tasting Gallery in the Yountville area of Napa Valley. For over two decades, this boutique winery has produced ultra-premium wines while developing a reputation as one of the most hospitable tasting rooms anywhere.

You can reserve the Jessup Cellars’ Classic Tasting for yourself or a group and enjoy the boutique winery’s guided wine tour that consists of the excellent wines paired nicely with artisan cheeses, nuts, and a Fatted calf salame. The $60 Tasting Fee will be refunded with the purchase of two bottles of wine or a Club Membership.

Visit the Jessup Cellar’s website to learn more and make your wine-tasting reservation.

Or, if you have questions, phone Jessup Cellars at (707)-944-5620.