When you’re preparing to go on the dinner date of your dreams, you’ll appear far more suave and sophisticated if you know a little about which wines you should be ordering. If you rely on reading the descriptions in a wine list, remember the basic rule that the flavours of the wine should intensify with each course.
The ideal wine to accompany the first course should be a light, sparkling white that is on the sweet or dry side with a high acidity that is meant to awaken your taste buds. A perfect match when ordering soup is a sauvignon blanc or a soauve from Verona in northern Italy which will have delicate hints of marmalade and bitter almond. However, if you really want to impress your date, there’s nothing better than calling for a versatile champagne brut. Produced by traditional methods near Reims in north eastern France, this popular bubbly treat has a subtle cheese rind or buttery flavour combined with infused tones of toasted biscuit that will complement any smoked salmon, shellfish or vegetable dish to perfection. A vintage variety has an even higher acidity level and underlying hints of orange zest. A less expensive alternative would be a deliciously fruity, sparkling prosecco from the Veneto region of Italy.
For the main course, a safe option is to choose a red wine that’s medium to full bodied in strength. You could opt for a red cotes du rhone or a classic burgundy made from the pinot noir grape that has been cultivated for centuries. However, to bring a touch of originality to your choice try a red barolo, one of Italy’s most treasured wines. Traditionally cultivated on the cool hillsides of Piedmont in northern Italy, the nebbiolo grape produces a uniquely flavoured wine that has hints of tar mingled with the romantic scent of roses. It is a perfect, versatile accompaniment to all kinds of dishes including beef, chicken, turkey, pork or a vegetarian mushroom risotto and is aged in wood casks for around three years. For an even more impressive full bodied taste that you’ll remember long after the dinner’s over, is the vintage reserva barolo wine that is specially matured in wood for at least five years to intensify the rounded, mellow tones.
The dessert course is often a rich, sweet chocolate or creamy creation that needs a fortified wine to match. An Italian vin santo or madeira are both ideal choices but for an intense flavour, a traditional port is hard to beat. Produced in the Duoro Valley in Portugal for more than a thousand years, port has been a mainstay of English culture since the Fourteenth Century. Port has a deep richness with flavours of raspberry, blackberry and a hint of caramel and cinnamon. Traditionally served in small three ounce measures with a selection of cheeses, it is the perfect way to conclude a memorable dinner date.