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Wine to Fit All Sorts of Occasions From January to December

Bill Garlough

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Pairing wines with food is fun, entertaining and downright tasty. Many of my 2007 milestones, memories and seasonal celebrations included great food and wine. Here are some of my favorite picks and pairings from last year.


January is our favorite time to have a party. The holidays are over, everyone is relaxed and there is no better way to spend a snowy night than with good friends. Chinese New Year is a great seasonal theme and everyone likes Asian food. The higher acidity and tropical fruit notes of Rieslings and Gewurztraminers help offset the heat of this spicy cuisine.

Picks: Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling, Washington State, $18; Fitz-Ritter Gewurztraminer, Germany, $17.

The comes February, and romance is in the air as we celebrate Valentine's Day. Start with an expensive French Champagne and finish with a port, paired with chocolate of course.

Picks: Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne, France, $60; Rosenblum Desiree Chocolate Port, California, $21.


Just a hop or two away, Easter is upon us and the traditional Easter ham. We like to serve either a Chardonnay or a Pinot Gris.

Picks: Trimbach Pinot Gris “Reserve" Alsace, France, $19; Tapestry Chardonnay McLaren Vale, Australia, $14; Elk Cove Pinot Gris, Oregon, $18.

With the weather warming, we often serve Rosés. Lighter colored Rosés pair well with fish, salads and soft cheeses, while darker red Rosés can stand up to spicy barbecue and Asian cuisine.

Picks: Chateau De Trinquevedel of Tavel, France, $16; Cabernet d'Anjou, Loire Valley, France, $9.


As picnics and barbecues dominate July, we break out the Zinfandels, Syrahs and Shiraz. Their jammy and slightly sweet fruit is the perfect counter to barbecue's bold flavors.

Picks: Rosenblum “North Coast" Zinfandel, Washington, $12; St. Francis “Old Vine" Zinfandel, California, $15; Cycles Gladiator Central Coast Syrah, California, $12; Mr. Riggs “The Gaffer" Shiraz, Australia, $24.

The oppressive heat of August calls for Sangria. While a couple of pre-bottled varieties are available, nothing beats the taste of homemade Sangria. Shiraz is recommended for red Sangria, while Muscat, Riesling and Gewí¼rztraminer are all good bases for white Sangria.

Picks for pre-bottled Sangria: Real Sangria, Spain, $8; de la Costa Sangria, California, $10.


Autumn brings Oktoberfest. Riesling's low alcohol level and high acidity make it an ideal wine to pair with bratwurst, schnitzels and even sauerbraten.

Picks: Ress Kabinett Riesling, Germany, $13; Dr. Loosen Riesling, Germany, $32; Studert-Prí¼m Riesling, Germany; $20.

With our traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I serve the food friendly Pinot Noir

Picks: A to Z Pinot Noir, Oregon, $18; Jigsaw Pinot Noir, Oregon, $17; Fiddlehead Pinot Noir “Oldsville" Reserve, Oregon, $42.

Champagne Cocktails are a festive way to usher in the holidays. For a more affordable “champagne" cocktail, use either an Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava. Just add a little of your favorite fruit juice, sweet liquor or aperitif to the sparkling wine and you have a grand start to your celebration. .

Picks: Zardetto Prosecco, Italy, $12; de Marques Gelida Cava, Spain, $13; Mionetto Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, Italy, $16.

Bill Garlough is a Level 1 Master Sommelier and an owner of My Chef Catering in Naperville, the winner of the U. S. Chamber's 2007 Small Business of the Year award. For more from Bill's Perfect Pairings check out My Chef . Bill can be reached at


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