How To Approach Food And Wine Pairings When Entertaining

If you're having people over for a dinner party, you are surely eager to impress your guests with your hosting skills – including having the perfect menu, complete with apropos food and wine pairings. But if you don't know where to start, don't fret because we spoke with Andrea Card, the senior winemaker at Northern California's Francis Ford Coppola Winery, for her expert insights on food and wine pairings. The winery is hosting a pizza and wine pairing hotline for the summer, but even if pizza isn't on your dinner party menu, Card has you covered. 

The best approach when entertaining, she says, is to have options for your guests – in other words, don't constrain their choices too much. Card says, "Everyone has their personal preferences, and you should provide crowd-pleasing [varieties] that will bode well with a variety of tastes. Delicious wine and food brings people together, so have fun with it, and your guests will feel that energy." To limit the possibility of poor pairings – and keep things manageable for you as a host — Card adds that the best approach is to widen the wine selection and pare down the food offerings.

Keeping food options minimal but the drink options vast

Card knows it can be overwhelming trying to imagine what every single guest may want, so she suggests serving "a set menu of dishes but providing] a selection of wines they can choose from with reds on the table, whites or sparklings chilling and even a bottle of orange at the ready." This way, instead of providing food and wine pairings your guests have to stick to, they can choose based on their own preferences.

The guests will be happy to have options – after all, each type of wine is different, and not everyone loves a red and a white – and the pressure is taken off of you as host to pick a complementary pairing that is also a crowd pleaser. Plus, there's another bonus. Card adds, "Who knows, one of your guests might discover an amazing new, unexpected wine and food pairing!"