Intimidated by need to pair wine with food for your grand holiday meal? Have no fear, two-word answer here: sauvignon blanc.
Major element of wine-food pairing is “palate cleansing”—scrubbing your mouth so you can better appreciate the next flutter of flavors.
Acidity is key to palate cleansing. Sauvignon blanc almost always is tangy, tart, and zesty with crisp, clean fruit flavors. Common taste notes include lime zest, grapefruit, lemon, green fig, passion fruit, honeydew melon. Freshly cut grass is common nose note, especially with New Zealand efforts. All this cleanses your palate and sets you up for tasty joys.
If you plan a multi-dish, multi-wine event, “sauv blanc” is a default choice, especially with salads and fish and other early courses, and it can be pocketbook and palate friendly.
New Zealand is a premier terroir for sauvignon blanc. The Marlborough region, with warm days and ocean-cooled nights, produces excellent values at affordable prices. If sauv blanc is default food pair, New Zealand Marlborough is a default sauv blanc region.
If you want French flair, your sauv blanc play is called Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé—named for Loire Valley regions where grape grows and wine is made. Sancerre is the left bank, Pouilly-Fumé the right.
Other regions, California (of course), Washington state, and Oregon do sauv blanc justice, too.
Bottom line: when put on the spot to pair wine with a dish, say “sauv blanc.” You will almost always bluff your way to be seen as wine wise. Worked for me innumerable times.
• Bogle Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Value win; simple, refreshing, tangy citrus/acidity, bit of apple; light-medium body, very clean. $9
• Michael David Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Light, liltingly delectable tropical fruit; bright, crisp; delicious clean acidity; another Michael David wine winner. $16
• Jules Taylor Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Melon, citrus, apple, grapefruit, spice; zippy acidity, smooth balance, tasty fruit. $16
• Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011. Very crisp, balanced, tangy citrus, green melon, key lime; light-medium body; very dry; classic NZ sauv blanc. $19
Last round: I drink wine to complement the food and make my dinner guests more interesting.