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Entertaining With Wine

Whether it’s a casual potluck dinner or a formal wedding reception, the right wine can set a tone, mark an occasion, and bring a menu to life. It doesn’t have to be complicated, either. With a basic understanding of wine varietals and when and how to serve them, your next gathering is sure to go off without a hitch.

Pairing Wine & Food

There are no hard-and-fast rules for pairing wine with food, but there are some guidelines. Light-bodied wines generally pair well with lighter food, while fuller-bodied wines complement heartier dishes. Consider, too, the primary flavor of a dish (sweet, sour, salty, bitter), because that will influence your perception of the wine.

Sweet Food

Always pair desserts and sweet foods with even sweeter wines. The sweetness of the food will diminish the apparent sweetness of the wine, making it taste more tart and tannic.

Suggestion: Cheesecake and Riesling, chocolate cake and port wine.

Sour Food

Sour food will enhance the sweetness of a wine, so it’s a great match for crisp whites.

Suggestion: Fish with lemon sauce paired with Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio

Salty Food

Salty food increases the fruity, sweet character of wine and pairs especially well with sparkling wines, acidic whites, and robust reds.

Suggestion: Oysters and Champagne, bleu cheese and Cabernet Sauvignon

Bitter Food

Bitter food will increase the bitterness of a wine, so it’s best to pair it with something less complex.

Suggestion: Mixed green salad paired with Riesling or White Zinfandel

Pairing Wine & Cheese

There is perhaps no more perfect pairing than that of wine and cheese. Their subtle flavors and textures are a natural complement to one another, and with endless varieties of each, matchmaking opportunities abound.

As with any wine pairing, there’s no “wrong” way to put wine and cheese together, but here are some tried-and-true combinations.

Soft, Young Cheeses

Pair crisp, acidic whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio with soft, young cheeses such as goat cheese and mozzarella.

Sharp, Semi-Hard Cheeses

Full-bodied, buttery whites like Chardonnay complement sharp, semi-hard cheeses like Asiago and cheddar.

Soft, Mild Cheeses

Light-bodied red wines traditionally accompany soft, milder-flavored cheeses. Consider Pinot Noir with Gouda.

Smoked Cheeses

Savory, fruit-forward wines like Merlot are a good choice for smoked cheeses.

Bleu Cheeses

Sweeter wines like Riesling or Malvasia are a pleasing contrast to most bleu cheeses (which also pair well with fruit-forward red wines such as Zinfandel).

Creamy Cheeses

Creamy Brie and Camembert strike the perfect balance with lively sparkling wines.

Wines by Season

For many of us, the changing seasons come with changing preferences in wine. The crisp whites we crave in summer give way to heartier reds in fall and winter months. As usual, personal preference trumps everything else, but here are some general guidelines for serving wine with the seasons. To search for Biltmore wines in any of the varietals listed, visit our Virtual Sommelier.


Crisp white wines are great for quenching your thirst in the summer, but slightly chilled, easy-drinking reds are perfectly suitable, too.

Our favorite summer wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chardonnay, White Blend, Rosé, Red Blend, Merlot

Note: If serving outdoors, keep your wine cool in a mix of ice and water. (Ice alone doesn’t chill as well.) It’s also helpful to keep the wine bottle out of direct sunlight – especially if you’re enjoying a red wine, which can “cook” if it gets too warm.


Full-bodied whites and light- to medium-bodied reds are the perfect complement to cooler weather and fall harvest foods.

Our favorite fall wines: Viognier, Oaked Chardonnay, Soft Red Blend, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sparkling Wine


Full-bodied reds are king in winter since they pair well with heartier dishes, but sparkling wines have a starring role at the holidays, too.

Our favorite winter wines: Malbec, Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux Blend, Oaked Chardonnay, Sparkling Wine


Lighter, aromatic wines help usher in warmer weather. They pair well with the lighter dishes of the spring season, too.

Our favorite spring wines: White Blend, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Unoaked Chardonnay, Moscato, Pinot Noir, Rosé

Wine Holidays

Beyond those seasonal guidelines, there are also a number of wine holidays. So if you’re looking for a reason to celebrate, here are a dozen good ones.

  • February 18 – National Drink Wine Day
  • March 3 – National Mulled Wine Day
  • April 17 – World Malbec Day
  • May 11 – National Winery Tourism Day
  • May 25 – National Wine Day (also National Chardonnay Day)
  • June 21 – National Sauvignon Blanc Day
  • August 4 – National Champagne Day (also celebrated October 26)
  • August 18 – National Pinot Noir Day
  • August 30 – National Cabernet Day
  • September - North Carolina Wine Month
  • November 19 – National Zinfandel Day

North Carolina Wine Month Menu

Did you know that September is North Carolina Wine and Grape Appreciation Month? In honor of the occasion, our estate chefs created this special recipe highlighting a traditional North Carolina dish – delicious in September or any time of year.

Seared Lamb Chops, Celeriac Purée, Broccoli Rabe, Hazelnut Brown Butter

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