Wedding Details: Red or White?

Conventional wine wisdom—white with fish, red with red meats, either with chicken—doesn’t consider how those foods are seasoned and sauced. That’s a critical factor.

Chardonnay is sensuous with salmon when the sauce is a rich beurre blanc or béarnaise, but dreadful with a sweet teriyaki-glazed version. And while any red wine will work with prime rib, a wimpy one won’t stand up to an assertive lamb dish, or a pungent steak au poivre.

Here is what the experts recommend to pair with popular wedding foods.

Hors d’oeuvres
Raw bar/sushi/shrimp Muscadet, Sancerre, vinho verde (a dry white) or nonvintage sparkling wines (Italian prosecco, Spanish cava or their American equivalents). Avoid cocktail sauce with wine. Sparkling wines highlight wasabi’s fiery wallop.
Smoked salmon Sparkling wines, Riesling or pinot gris
Antipasti Sparkling wines, pinot grigio, Vouvray, unoaked American chenin blanc, French rosé, Beaujolais or dolcetto
Fried foods Nonvintage sparkling wines

Tomato sauce Orvieto or barbera
Pesto Sauvignon blanc, Gavi, barbera, -Beaujolais, Rhône reds
Cream sauce Prosecco, Orvieto, Vouvray
Meat sauce Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Butter sauce Chablis, chardonnay, young pinot noir
Béarnaise sauce Chardonnay
Teriyaki Riesling or pinot noir
Ginger/lemongrass Chardonnay or sauvignon blanc
Red wine sauce Match the wine (usually pinot noir)

Grilled or seared, no sauce Riesling, pinot noir or barbera

Roasted, with pan juices Almost any white or red wine
Kiev Chardonnay or Riesling

Roasted prime rib Any red wine
Filet mignon or steak, grilled Any red wine
Filet or steak au poivre Cabernet sauvignon, Beaujolais or Rhône red

Roasted or seared Pinot noir, merlot, shiraz or zinfandel
Asian spices or fruit sauces Riesling, shiraz or zinfandel

Roasted Reds from Bordeaux, Rhône or Provence, or merlot

Spicy foods Nonvintage sparkling wine, Riesling or Beaujolais
Sweet foods Riesling or Vouvray
Savory foods Sauvignon blanc, Orvieto, verdicchio, or cabernet franc-based reds such as Chinon