12 Varieties of Wine and Pairings

Whether you're cooking for your sweetheart on Valentine's Day or dining out, we've compiled a list of some of the West's best wines and perfect pairings that will be sure to impress the apple of your eye on the year's most romantic day.

Sauvignon BlancSauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc: crisp and refreshing
Taste: Tart lemon, grapefruit, melon, and tropicals like passionfruit over a pleasant grassiness and herbal quality.
Pair with: Cheeses, green vegetables, oysters, delicate fish, fresh herbs, mild vinaigrettes, dishes with tangy dairy, pesto.
Try it with: Roasted Artichoke Salad with Lemon and Mint

Cabernet SauvignonCabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon: the king of reds
Taste: Plums, blackberries, and black currant; sometimes violets or rose petals, and often mint, mocha, and eucalyptus or cedar; strong tannins underneath.
Pair with: Well-marbled beef, hearty fowl, spice rubs and sauces, marinades with soy sauce, long-braised stews, pot roast, grilled red meat.

Chardonnay: rich and complex white
Taste: Green apple, pear, melon, creamy lemon, and sometimes pineapple, rounded out with butterscotch and vanilla.
Pair with: Sweet shellfish, white-fleshed fish, chicken and turkey, pork, veal, legumes, winter squash, corn, nuts, risotto and pasta, cream and butter sauces, mild Caribbean dishes with tropical fruit flavors.
Try it with: Chicken Fettuccine with Mushroom Brie

Merlot: soft tannins, dark fruit
Taste: Blackberries, blueberries, plums, cassis, and dried cherries combined with chocolate, cedar, and tobacco and sometimes hints of black olive.
Pair with: Tenderloin, lamb, meaty fish, black olives, mushrooms, fresh herbs, grilled foods, meats with warm spices, meats with fruit sauces.

Pinot NoirPinot Noir
Pinot Noir: a silky, sensual red
Taste: Red or dark berries, cherries, plums, violets, warm spices, herbs, sometimes an orange peel with an underside of cedar, smoke, leather, mushrooms, and loam.
Pair with: Pungent poultry and duck, lamb, venison, hearty fish, ham, spicy pork, mushrooms, earthy legumes like lentils, warm spices, sweet-salty marinades, fruit-based sauces, spiced Asian and eastern Mediterranean dishes, many cheeses.
Try it with: Peppered Salmon

Pinot GrigioPinot Grigio
Pinot grigio/pinot gris: crisp to complex
Taste: Pear, lemon, melon, and sweet spice flavors.
Pair with: Richer fish, shellfish, chicken, pasta, fresh herbs, rich sauces, mild Asian dishes, Coconut milk-based curries, some cheeses.
Try it with: Ultimate Mac 'n' Cheese

Riesling: crisp and aromatic
Taste: Delicate white peach, green apple, and lime flavors. Riesling often has a pleasant minerality akin to wet stones and a haunting diesel-like aroma (if you can imagine that as a good thing).
Pair with: Shellfish, pork, ham, salads and vegetables, egg dishes, sausages, salumi, cured pork products, barbecue, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese (especially sushi), Indian, Southwestern foods.

Dry roséDry rosé
Dry rosé: rich and refreshing
Taste: Strawberries, cherries, citrus, flowers, herbs, and spices.
Pair with: Chicken, cured meats, sandwiches, crab, seafood stews, pastas, tomatoes, fresh herbs.
Try it with: French Tomato Tart

Sparkling wineSparkling wine
Sparkling wine: great with food
Taste: Apple, lemon, lime, pear, strawberry, and cherry flavors with a pleasant yeastiness (like a brioche baking) and earthy minerality. Bubbly's great acidity makes it an excellent food wine (not just a sipper for celebrations).
Pair with: Caviar, smoked salmon, cheeses, fish and shellfish, cream sauces, potpies, savory turnovers, Asian dishes of all kinds, sausages, fruity condiments, salty foods, deep-fried foods, potato chips, popcorn.

Viognier: exotic and aromatic
Taste: Honeyed tangerine, peach, and apricot with honeysuckle and citrus blossom aromas.
Pair with: Shellfish, rich fish, spice-rubbed roast chicken and turkey, braised or roasted root vegetables, sauces with aromatic spices, Moroccan dishes, mild curries, chutney.

Syrah: earthy and fruity
Taste: Dark fruit, black olives, and herbs against a backdrop of earthy leather, tobacco, and meaty bacon, laced with black pepper.
Pair with: Lamb, sausage, grilled meats, roast pork, barbecue, stews, game, black olives, dishes with lots of black pepper, dishes with pungent herbs.
Try it with: Flank Steak with Warm Moroccan Spices

Zinfandel: jammy and spicy
Taste: Dark berries, dried cherries, plums, chocolate, and black pepper.
Pair with: Barbecue (Zin loves ribs), hamburgers, sausage, pizza, grilled foods, long-braised stews, slightly spicy food, Southwest and Mexican dishes, Moroccan spices.