With hundreds of wine bottles staring at you in the grocery aisle, it’s certainly never easy to choose which one to grab. I mean, really, how do you do it?? If you’re like us, it’s often a crap shoot. Go with the coolest label? Guilty. Eenie, meenie, minie, mo? Don’t tell anyone we admitted to that. B-line towards the one you’ve been buying every week since you visited their winery? So true. Unless you’re a sommelier, it’s pretty impossible to know what each varietal tastes like, let alone which will pair perfectly with what’s on the dinner menu tonight.


There is in fact a science behind a wine’s flavor profile {you can learn about it and even be a part of the wine making process through La Crema’s new Virtual Vintner experience! On their new site not only can you learn if you’re more of a Chardonnay or Pinot Noir person, but you can actually partake in community wine making. We certainly are intrigued to see how the final product turns out!}. While we’d never claim master sommelier status {or anything close!}, we have learned a thing or two. It’s safe to say we’ve drank our fair share of wine, after all. Pulling out tasting notes and pairing is actually quite fun and doesn’t have to be as daunting as you think!

Our little trick is simple: start with the winemaker’s notes. They often describe the influences you technically should be able to taste in that varietal {oh and varietal is a just a wine-industry word for type of grape – aka Chardonny vs. Pinot Noir}. Even if you can’t particularly taste “alluring boysenberry,” in your glass, you can use those flavors as your pairing guide.

For example, if plum notes are in there, think what food pairs with plums? A grilled pork loin with grilled plums and kale would be ah-mazing. But don’t stop there. Expand a step further past the obvious. Plums are often in jelly, right? I have this amazing Chipotle and Raspberry jelly in the fridge that is amazing on ribs! Perfect pairing? Done and done.


Sometimes tasting notes aren’t quite as specific. What if you only get “juicy tropical flavors” as the descriptor on your Chardonnay label? You don’t need to freak if you don’t see a specific ingredient jump out at you. You could throw together a fresh papaya salad. Or think about it, avocados grow in tropical places- maybe a creamy avocado sauce over chicken? The fattiness of the avocado will balance the acidic tones of the wine perfectly. And don’t axe out dessert! A key lime pie is superb with an exotic Chardonnay!


Of course the rule of thumb of pairing red wine with meats, mushrooms and hearty dishes is foolproof. Same goes for seafood, chicken and salads with white! Try any these scrumptious recipes with these wines for a dee-licious pairing:

Pinot Noir:

Mushroom + Kale Risotto
Turkey Meatballs + Zucchini Noodles
Black Bean + Corn Enchiladas Verdes


Crab Spaghetti with Lemon Gremolata
Almond Crusted Chicken + Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Cauliflower + Chickpea Salad with Jalapeño Lime Dressing

Any wine aficionados out there? What are your go-to tricks for picking the perfect wine to go with your food??


photography by aubrie pick // art direction by erin hiemstra // styling by bianca sotelo

This post is in partnership with La Crema. Head HERE to partake in the Virtual Vintner experience for a chance to win an all expenses paid trip to the La Crema Winery. All opinions are 100% our own. Thanks for supporting posts that keep Apartment 34’s doors open!

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  1. Just today I was talking with Le Boyfriend about doing a “wine tasting” with friends and I wanted to have different varieties of wines and cook small bites that would pair great with each one… this is great thanks!

    Jules.- http://www.thekiwidiaries.com

  2. La Crema is one of my all time favorite wines!! Love how you broke down the flavor profiles of each and the photos are stunning!

  3. I work in a winery and it’s really good to go into the cellar door and speak to the guys they all love wine and wen better if you’re a novice they’ll try to convert you! Just to add Pinot goes brilliantly with pork belly and Chardonnay perfectly with a French style chicken casserole!