Pick a proper pairing

Too many people make a big deal about food-wine pairing. God bless them, they mean well.

A food might pair better with this wine rather than that wine, but we make far too much about the combination. There is no perfect wine pairing with a particular dish. Wine-food pairing is horseshoes and hand grenades, not microsurgery.

Rules of thumb:

Regardless of color, wines with moderate alcohol, moderate-to-higher acidity, little-or-no oak and moderate-to-soft tannins pair best with food.

Among reds, pinot noir, gamay, barbera, grenache (or garnacha) and cabernet franc are safe pours.

Among whites, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, chenin blanc and dry rieslings are easy calls.

Notice wine superstars don’t make the list. “Pay attention to me” show-offs — chest-thumping cabs, buttery unctuous chards, flaming syrahs and zins — might be great stand-alone pours, but often they do not play well with other ingestibles.

Then there is beef — and here burly brawlers finally have a role. Cabernet sauvignon rules but other palate-pummeling pours do well, too. Big red meat cows almost all white wines.

Bottom line: What is most important is not the wine-food pairing, but the wine-people pairing. If you pour what you like, everything will be fine — unless the entree is slabs of blood-dripping beef. In that instance, let rapacious reds have their way with you.

Tasting notes

Domaines Schlumberger Alsace Pinot Gris Les Princes Abbés 2010: Superb effort, focus, acidity, dry, rich; pear, pear; silky, minerality; $20

MacMurray Russian River Valley Pinot Gris 2013: White fruits — pear, apple, peach, fig, lemon; nicely focused, rich mouth, good acidity; $20

Michael David Sauvignon Blanc 2013; Lavishly delicious California sauv blanc; citrus acidity; bright, crisp; honeysuckle, peach, orange; $26.

Last round: A real friend knows when to listen and when to stop listening; when to talk and when to stop talking; when to pour wine and when to just give me the dang bottle.

Email Gus at wine@cwadv.com. Follow tasting notes on Twitter @gusclemens.