Cocktail Culture

Perfect Pairings

Wondering What Wine to Choose? Meet Our Meal Matchmaker
by Adrienne N. Hester

Perfect Pairings

Photo by Danny Inglewood

Kenneth Shey has compiled a wine list at The Range Steakhouse at Harrah’s Las Vegas that’s attracting national attention. A respectful mix of recognizable vineyards and hard-to-find small family vintners, it recently caught the eye of connoisseurs—earning the restaurant a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.

Shey also knows the secrets of pairing a great wine with an equally matched meal. It all starts, he says, with knowing your guests. Shey offers some sage advice about how to marry wine with food, whether for an intimate meal for two or a festive dinner party for eight. First and foremost, he says, is to find a wine with a nice structure and balance, and to match it with light or contrasting flavors.

Chicken with a white-wine sauce and fresh vegetables, he says, pairs best with a sauvignon blanc, with its herbal components, or with a light red in the form of a pinot noir. Shey believes the solid texture of pork works perfectly with a wine from France’s Rhône Valley or a Grenache/Syrah mix because of its strength. His suggestion is a “stunning Châteauneuf-du-Pape, ‘New Castle of the Pope,’ because it has gorgeous flavors with red-dark berry and is a bit smoky.”

A rosemary-crusted rack of lamb is a classic match for cabernet, as the aromatic style of the herb draws out the fruit in the wine, while a boneless rib-eye filet featuring a Delmonico mustard-brandy peppercorn sauce is best with a red zinfandel because the wine’s “nice ripe fruit and slight tang” bring the flavors together, Shey says.

As for fish: The Gewürztraminer grape variety has spiciness and a slight apricot citrus with hints of honey, making it pair well with ahi tuna, soy sauce and the heat of wasabi. “The flavors match up” magnificently, Shey points out.

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