Wine Wisdom With Chasity Cooper
Red or White Glass, You Live and You Learn
It’s Thursday evening and you find yourself at another not mandatory but mandatory company event. You’ve been able to escape through the crowd just as Barb from HR pulls out pictures of the family trip to New Jersey that you’ve seen at least 84 times. The team is shifted towards the dining room to tables draped in white linens. Lights have been dimmed just enough to see the gleam off the rows of long stemmed glasses. As your fingers graze on the embossed menu filled with options of cuts of meat and fish. A figure leans over and gently asks you one of the hardest decisions you may have made for the day… “Red or White Wine?”
Outside of the collegiate bottom shelf wines my lack of knowledge over the years has only deepened with more events, more functions, and more life. I lean on my friends for support when it comes to ordering anything outside of a cocktails which is where I am an au fiat at… I drink and know things.
I’ve enlisted the help of oenophile Chasity Cooper of Wine with Chas, a website dedicated to all things wine and dine to gives us all the info on ordering wines when out.
I go to several events and work happy hours. Is there a rhyme or reason to the menu and how to order?
If you’re at a work dinner or happy hour, chances are the wine selections are going to be limited - based upon what is available OR what is being served on the main menu. Here’s my take - if you’re wondering what to sip on for a work happy hour, don’t make it too hard on yourself. First, ask the bartender or server what the ‘house red’ or ‘house white’ is on the happy hour menu. Typically, these wines are ones considered ‘easy drinking’ like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Merlot, Pinot Grigio or rosé. If you’re not too sure about which one to make your final choice, you can always ask the bartender for a little sippy-sip and go from there.
There are tons of flavors to choose from. I’m a Rosé type of girl. What’s a breakdown of popular categories:
Fruit forward with medium acidity (depends on what region it is from); with possible flavors of strawberry, watermelon and rose petals on the palate
Pairs well with: pasta dishes, vegetables like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and eggplant; salmon, bruschetta, and fish tacos
Light bodied white wine, fruit forward with medium acidity; possible flavors of white peach, grapefruit and lime on the palate
Pairs well with: Mexican food, sushi, chicken, and fish like salmon; goat cheese and Pecorino Romano
Light-bodied white wine, medium acidity with flavors of lemon, melon and peach on the palate
Pairs well with: salads, light and mild cheeses like mozzarella
Full-bodied white, medium acidity with flavors of oak, butter, pineapple and yellow apple on the palate
Pairs well with: seafood, chicken and veal; cheese like Brie
Aromatic, fruit forward white wine, high acidity with flavors of lime, apple and citrus zest on the palate
Pairs well with: Ricotta cheese, chicken, duck, turkey and pork
Light-bodied red wine with fairly high acidity; possible flavors of cranberry, cherry and raspberry on the palate
Pairs well with: roasted chicken, pork, seared salmon or tuna; cheese like Gruyere and Brie
Medium-bodied, fruit forward red wine; possible flavors of red plum, black cherry and blackberry
Pairs well with: Monterrey Jack and Parmesan cheese; lamb, steak and roasted chicken or pork
Full-bodied red wine; possible flavors of cherry, tobacco and cedar on the palate
Pairs well with: roasted veggies, Mexican food like tacos, burritos and nachos, pizza
Full-bodied red wine; possible flavors of black cherry, red currant and bell pepper on the palate
Pairs well with: red meat - lamb, beef, and smoked brisket. Also, firm cheeses like cheddar, American and Gouda.
Moving from a happy hour to a dinner. It’s a bit more formal and limited. Where do we go from here?
If you have a choice between red and white wines, my advice would be to start with the WHITE wine, and as the evening progresses, indulge in the red wine. If you happen to be enjoying a meal with multiple courses, chances are you’re going to start with a salad or light appetizer that may contain fish or vegetables. White wines are good here because they’re light, refreshing and palate cleansing, preparing you for the more decadent things to come. As you move into the main course, you could potentially have the choice of red meat (beef, lamb, chicken) or fish. The restaurant’s chef and wine director more than likely collaborated if the menu is prix fix so your wine selections are right on the money.
Whether you are a novice wine drinker or you’ve been popping the cork on delicious wines for years, the goal is to simply enjoy yourself when you are out in fellowship with coworkers and friends.
Give us the scoop. What are your personal favorites to order while you are out
When I’m out and I want to enjoy a glass of wine at the bar, I typically lean toward ordering a based on the grape varietal. However - this is a teachable moment for us all, so here are a few of my favorite winemakers that I’ve enjoyed:
"Tinto Historico", Bodega Catena, Mendoza, AR (Malbec)
Riff, Italy (Pinot Grigio)
M.A.N., South Africa (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Eroica, Washington (Riesling)
Don’t be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone, and remember - you can swirl your glass, but don’t get too carried away. Cheers!
Personally I can’t wait to use the tips to Chasity has provided to actually know what I’m doing instead of scanning down the menu with fear in my eyes. For more information or wine tips be sure to follow Chasity on Instagram at @chasityscooper and her website www.winewithchas.com