Tasting Wine from Napa to Santa Barbara

California wine tasting prep: what you need to know about pairing wines.

Wine tastings in California is part of the fun in Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Carneros, and Santa Barbara. What to eat with each varietal is more tricky. Here are some things to consider for wine pairings:

Sauvignon Blanc & Oysters.

A romantic, sensual classic: the bright, crisp liveliness of a California Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect foil for the briny, fresh taste of local oysters.  Close your eyes and you’ll feel as if you are standing on a windswept coast, holding hands and breathing in the sea air. Some great regions for Sauvignon Blanc include Sonoma, Napa, Lodi, and Lake County.

Chardonnay & Lobster.

A California Chardonnay that leans toward the opulent, with a rich, silky mouth-feel and a buttery note elevates the festive romance of grilled lobster with drawn butter, or a creamy, elegant Lobster Thermidor. Chardonnay shines in many of California’s wine regions, so it’s easy to find one that makes you think of sunny wine country vacations—or weddings!

Pinot Noir & Truffles.

It’s truffle season, and no wine loves truffles’ earthy, sensual aroma like Pinot Noir.  Try pairing it with creamy, delectable truffled risotto or a slow roasted pork loin with wild mushrooms and truffles.  Pinot Noir likes California’s cooler wine growing areas, so look to areas such as Sonoma, Carneros and Santa Barbara for your perfect pick.

Cabernet Sauvignon & Filet Mignon.

There’s no doubt about it: a tender, succulent filet that is perfectly grilled is a sensory pleasure that melts the heart.  Add the rich, dark fruit depths of a classic California Cabernet and you’ve got a swoon-worthy pairing.  Romantic Cabernet Sauvignon likes a kiss from the sun and is at its happiest in warm spots throughout California including Napa Valley, Lake County and Paso Robles.

“Port” style Zinfandel & Chocolate.

Zinfandel is ripe and decadent to begin with, but made in a dessert-wine style it reaches new heights. Pair it with a chocolate mousse cake with raspberry coulis and you might end up engaged by the last bite. In Dry Creek Valley, Sierra Foothills, Lodi and Madera, gnarled old vines are a few of the sources for some of California’s most exciting Zinfandel wines.

 Moscato & Coeur a la Crème.

This simple yet decadent heart-shaped dessert is a sweet way to say “I love you,” especially when highlighted by the gently sweet, floral notes of youthful Moscato.  Under the California appellation, the inland Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys are exploring this delicious grape variety. For more information on varietals, regions and wineries that serve those varietals, go to the state’s official website for all things California wine: (Wine Institute’s consumer site). Photo compliments of DiscoverCaliforniaWines.

Marybeth Bond

Marybeth Bond


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