Selecting Wines for A Multi-Course Dinner – Pacing The Flow

by Taryn Lachter

Picture this: it’s summertime, you’re hosting a dinner on your patio and it’s the real deal.

Multiple courses, the good china, big flower centerpieces.

The only thing missing is the wine selection! It can be daunting to choose wines for multiple dishes without breaking the bank and without immediately getting your guests drunk.

Picture this: it’s summertime, you’re hosting a dinner on your patio and it’s the real deal. Multiple courses, the good china, big flower centerpieces. The only thing missing is the wine selection! It can be daunting to choose wines for multiple dishes without breaking the bank and without immediately getting your guests drunk. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Like with any pairing, you want to focus on the star of the dish and use those flavors to match with a type of wine. Let’s say you’re doing an appetizer, a soup course, the main course with meat, a vegetable, and a starch, and then a dessert. 

For the appetizer, what is the main ingredient or subject? Is it cheesy? Is it vegetables or protein? Match that to a wine, and make sure you’re focusing on whatever the key element is of that dish. Cooking theory says that whatever flavors are around the central theme will be complimentary, therefore if you pair the wine to that center, the complimentary ingredients will also pair with your wine.

Soup can be tricky to match with because the flavors are all blended together, nothing is a true standout. The type of soup you’re likely cooking for a dinner like this will be brothy or creamy but rarely meaty or dense. Stews are generally served as a main course, not as a soup course, because of how heavy they are. Therefore, a white wine or sparkling wine will be a safe bet, especially one that is drier and less sweet. 

General food pairing rules apply to the main course. If it’s meat or very hearty grains and vegetables, go with a red wine. If it’s fish, lighter vegetables, or pasta, go with a white. Now remember your guests have already been through two kinds of wine and two courses so keep it light, whatever you choose. 

In terms of pacing, it’s advised to keep it to about a glass a course. A standard 750 ml bottle of wine serves about 5 glasses so keep that in mind when you’re purchasing. You want something for them to enjoy and enhance the meal but not overwhelm their palate or completely obliterate their tastebuds with alcohol. 

That being said, when your fourth course comes up aka dessert, it’s up to you if you want to serve a paired wine. You could specifically match to the type of dessert you’re serving or you can pick a widely loved dessert wine like a chilled Riesling or Gewurtzraminer. You can serve it in smaller amounts as well, which helps to reduce the over-stuffing of your guests.

The key takeaways here are:



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