Wine 101: The Basics of Wine Pairing

Wine 101: The Basics of Wine Pairing


Ordering wine at a restaurant can be a daunting task when you don’t have a lot of experience. If you’re anything like me, you order the “house” wine selection because it saves you the indecision and potential stress… if you hate it, at least it was cheap. However, what happens when you go on a date, host a private dining event, hold a business dinner meeting, or some other occasion that requires a bottle of wine? In these cases, gaining some wine knowledge would greatly improve your dining experience.

Many people believe that knowing the ins-and-outs of wine takes a great investment of both time and money. This is not true; in fact, knowing how to order wine is quite easy. 

The Wine Fundamentals

To start, we look at where it all begins; the magnificent grape. There are 9 styles of wine, each with their own unique characteristics. 

1. Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine is a great selection for celebrations! Sparkling wine originated in Champagne, France (explains the name) and includes the following grape varietals: Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, and Cremant. If you’re looking to impress, order a bottle of Champagne Drappier Carte d’Or. If this selection is too pricey, The Groton Station House offers many other sparkling wines that are not as sweet as champagne but still excellent choices such as the Avissi Prosecco.

2. Light-Bodied White Wine

If you’re looking for a light, easy to drink wine, light-bodied white wines are the choice for you! Light-bodied whites include the following common grape varietals: Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc. Light-bodied white wines are the “beer of wine,” which makes them a great choice with most foods. If you find yourself ordering wine for a large party of guests, The Groton Station House offers a wide variety of light-bodied whites that are widely enjoyed like the Villebois Sauvignon Blanc, Attems Pinot Grigio, The Infamous Goose Sauvignon Blanc by the glass or the Rombauer Sauvignon Blanc by the bottle.

3. Full-bodied White Wine

Full-bodied white wine is perfect for people who favor red wines because they are rich, smooth, and slightly creamy. Two great options for customers interested in a more full-bodied white wine would be the Chalk Hill Chardonnay by the glass or the Stags’ Leap Chardonnay and Domaine Matrot Meursault by the bottle.

4. Aromatic White Wine

Aromatic White Wines have intense, perfume-like aromas that float out of your wine glass. These wines can either be dry or sweet depending on the initial aromas. The Groton Station House carries a couple of aromatic white wines including the August Kesseler Kabinett Riesling.

5. Rosé

In restaurants today, you can find all styles of Rosé made from different grape varietals (dry or sweet). At the Groton Station House, customers love the Murrieta’s Well Sweet rosé and the Laurent Miquel Cinsault dry rosé. 

6. Light-Bodied Red Wine

Light-bodied red wines pale in color and have very light tannin (dryness). The Groton Station House offers a wide selection of light-bodied reds by the glass and by the bottle such as J. Wilkes Pinot Noir, Elk Cove Pinot Noir, and Domaine Dupeuble Gamay.

7. Medium-Bodied Red Wine

Medium-bodied red wines are great pairing wines, they offer up tons of flavor that complement a wide range of foods. Although The Groton Station House does not carry the common Merlot grape varietal by the glass, we do carry other selections that are very similar to Merlot such as Clos De Los Siete, Blend, or André Brunel Côtes Du Rhône. By the bottle, the Groton Station House offers the Frog’s Leap Merlot and the Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot

8. Full-Bodied Red Wine

Full-bodied red wines are the darkest and most tannic wines. These full-bodied reds do well alongside fatty meats or as a stand-alone cocktail drink. The most common full-bodied red wine grape varietals are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, or Pinotage. We offer a variety of favorited full-bodied reds such as the Roth Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Canvasback Cabernet Sauvignon, Nickel And Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Clos De Los Siete Malbec Blend..  

9. Dessert Wine

Finish off your night with a delicious dessert wine. Sip on one of our Tawny Port wines (10 years & 20 years) to cover your pallet with traces of a rich nutty, figgy flavor.

The Basic Wine Pairing Principles

According to an excellent resource, Wine Folley, the following principles lead to perfect pairings.

  1. The wine should be more acidic than the food.
  2. The wine should be sweeter than the food.
  3. The wine should have the same flavor intensity as the food.
  4. Red wines pair best with bold-flavored meats (e.g. red meat).
  5. White wines pair best with light-intensity meats (e.g. fish or chicken).
  6. Bitter wines (e.g. red wines) are best balanced with fat.
  7. It is better to match the wine with the sauce than with the meat.
  8. More often than not, White, Sparkling and Rosé wines create contrasting pairings.
  9. More often than not, Red wines will create congruent pairings.

Tasting Notes: Groton Station House Wines by the Glass

Sparkling & Wine Wine Selection

The Avissi Prosecco, Veneto, Italy

This sparkling wine makes for a great choice when dining outside on our patio during a hot summer day. The Avissi Prosecco pairs excellently with our Charcuterie Plate and Oyster appetizers. Generally, Prosecco is a very food-friendly wine so you can pair it with any entree from our menu and be satisfied with the complementing flavors. 

Attems Pinot Grigio, Venezia Giulia, Italy 2017

This versatile Pinot Grigio makes for a delicious aperitif wine. The Attems Pinot Grigio pairs perfectly with rich salads such as our Summer Salad, Groton Center Farms Salad, and Wedge Salad. Additionally, this pinot grigio is a great partner with pasta dishes such as our Pasta Carbonara. Lastly, pinot grigio will complement any fish-based main entree. It is a superb choice alongside any summer dish.

Villebois Sauvignon Blanc, Loire, France 2018

A wonderful choice with herb-driven sauces over chicken or fish dishes such as our French Styled Chicken Breast or Seared Cod Loin.

The Infamous Goose Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2017

This Sauvignon Blanc wine has fresh aromas and flavors of nectarine, peach, and gooseberry followed by fresh acidity and a clean finish. The Infamous Goose pairs excellently with fish, shellfish, salads, and white meats. We suggest you pair this sauvignon blanc with our fresh Massachusetts or Maine Oysters

Albert Bichot Chablis, Burgundy, France, 2015

Keep it classic with this Chablis! Enjoy this wine’s freshness as an aperitif or with a meal. In order to fully appreciate this wine’s richness, pair this Chablis with our Shrimp Cocktail, Maple Glazed Salmon or our Swordfish Special!

Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Sonoma, California, USA 2017

This chardonnay is flavorful and balanced. This wine exudes aromas and flavors of ripe fruit and cream oak making it a nice pairing choice with our Lobster Roll, Crab Cakes, Maple Glazed Salmon, French Styled Chicken, and Lobster Mac & Cheese.

Red Wine Selection

Domaine Dupeuble Gamay, Beaujolais, France 2017

Gamay is delicious on its own; a simple bottle can benefit from a light chill before serving. This Gamay pairs great with poultry, especially our Rendered Duck Breast. Not ordering an entree? Order a bottle of this wine alongside our Charcuterie plate for an excellent night with friends!

Wilkes Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California, USA 2015

Pinot Noir is all about red fruit! Upon tasting, you will experience flavors such as strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. Pinot’s acidity cuts through oily, pink-fleshed fish like our Maple Glazed Salmon and Lobster. However, this Pinot Noir also pairs nicely with our French Styled Chicken or Rendered Duck Breast.

Clos De Los Siete, Blend, Mendoza, Argentina 2016

Unlike other medium/full-bodied reds, this Malbec blend does not have a long finish or aggressive tannins. This Argentinian blend pairs well with lean red meats such as our New York Sirloin or Steak Frites. Order a side of Mushrooms and top off the sirloin with Blue Cheese Crumbles… Yum, a perfect pairing! 

André Brunel Côtes Du Rhône, Rhône, France

This Rhône blend makes for a very food-friendly wine. This wine can work with a wide variety of items on our menu including any meat-based dishes such as our Station House Burger, Steak Frites or any selection from our cooked-to-order steak menu.

Roth Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA 2016

The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is bold, full-bodied, and rich. Flavors of red currant, blackberry, dark chocolate, and vanilla complement the firm tannins of this wine with every sip. Structured and powerful, this Cabernet lingers on the finish. The Roth Estate Cabernet pairs best with hearty, flavorful, and fatty meat dishes. With this wine, choose any entree from our selection of steaks such as our Filet Mignon or Porterhouse.

Happy Wine-ing & Dining!

Author: Kathryn Preston



Helpful Resources: Wine Folley, The Wine Cellar Insider, Vivino,