The Epicurean's Guide To Food & Wine Pairings - Expert Tips from Winemaker Russell Joyce

With the holiday season in full swing, you’re probably getting prepared to entertain at home. Before you plan your menu or head to the market, make sure to read through this guide to wine pairings (and definitely take notes!).

Expert Tips from Winemaker Russell Joyce

To help you plan a fabulous party or casual get-together, The Epicurean’s Guide To Food & Wine Pairings (featuring expert tips from Joyce Vineyards‘ winemaker and partner, Russell Joyce) shares stellar advice on food and wine pairings, popular varietals, and information about different types of wines.

Russell Joyce - Winemaker

Working with his father and business partner, Francis Joyce, Russell Joyce has been instrumental in catapulting the growth of Joyce Vineyards into a well-known brand in Northern California. “The winery has grown from its micro winery on the original property to a now off-site urban winemaking facility in Salinas, Ca.” Producing a range of varietals (including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and more), Joyce Vineyards offers quality wines at affordable prices. To help educate consumers about wine and give them a taste of their brand, Russell Joyce can often be found sharing his expertise at exclusive winemaker dinners (at local hotspots such as Restaurant 1833 and Mission Ranch) throughout the Monterey Peninsula.

The Epicurean's Guide To Food & Wine Pairings - Tips from Joyce Vineyards Winemaker Russell Joyce

The Epicurean’s Guide To Food & Wine Pairings

CLP: When planning a party, what are the best wine varietals to serve?

RJ: Classics varietals such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon are always staples and sure to be crowd pleasers. If you associate with a more progressive and adventurous group of individuals, then perhaps Rosé, Dry Riesling and Grenache could be tasty alternatives.

The Epicurean's Guide To Food & Wine Pairings - Tips from Joyce Vineyards Winemaker Russell Joyce

When planning a menu, what foods pair best with White Wines?

Pinot Grigio – Light seafood dishes (scallops, dover sole, sand dabs)

Chardonnay – Richer fish (salmon, swordfish, lobster), veal, and chicken

Sauvignon Blanc – cheese, green vegetables (asparagus and zucchini), and oysters

What planning a menu, what foods pair best with Red Wines?

Merlot – Mild beef (lamb and tenderloin) and mushrooms

Cabernet – Hearty beef (ribeye, pot roast, duck)

Pinot Noir – Duck, salmon, lamb, venison, and cheese

The Epicurean's Guide To Food & Wine Pairings - Tips from Joyce Vineyards Winemaker Russell Joyce

What is the difference between Champagne and Sparkling Wine? Why would one type be preferred or served over the other (cost, flavor, etc.)?

The only reason we call Champagne, “Champagne” is because it comes exclusively from the Champagne region in France. Bubbly from all other regions in the world are simply referred to as “sparkling wine”, although regional specialties abound. In Spain, they refer to sparkling wine as Cava, and in Italy, bubbles are referred to as Prosecco and Moscato. I have found Cava and Prosecco to be a bit sweeter than traditional dry french Champagne, so personally, I do not prefer them, but many do. In terms of cost, Champagne is almost certain to cost more than other alternatives, such as Prosecco or Cava.

The Epicurean's Guide To Food & Wine Pairings - Tips from Joyce Vineyards Winemaker Russell Joyce

With some wines being naturally sweeter (like Riesling), what specifically classifies them as a Dessert Wine? What types of Dessert Wines are best to serve at a party or after dinner?

There is no definition which specifically classifies a desert wine. A dessert wine is simply a sweet wine typically served with dessert. I enjoy a sweet Riesling from time to time after dinner, or a Sauternes, which is a french sweet wine from the Bourdeaux region in France made out of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle grapes.

Now that you have the inside scoop on ideal food and wine pairings, your holiday party is sure to be a festive and fabulous affair that all your guests will be raving about for seasons to come. Cheers!

[Image Credits: Shutterstock and Inspirations & Celebrations.]


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