As the seasons change, so do the chef’s menus. In the summer, we switch from deep, rich, warm, comforting foods to lighter, fresher fare. Wine pairings must also change with the seasons, supporting, not overwhelming the cuisine. For restaurants, there is no need to revamp the entire wine list, but the wait staff needs to recommend the types of wines that pair best with the updated menu. For caterers and home chefs, or for the invited guest at a summer party, it is important to make a more on point selection. Let’s take three examples: Fresh salads and veggies, grilled foods, and wedding cakes.

If you would squeeze a wedge of lemon on the salad or the fresh vegetables, the wine pairing should also be crisp, acidic, and full of citrus. Examples include: Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Vermentino from Italy, Verdejo from Spain, or a rosé from France. This might come as a surprise, but a dry Amontillado Sherry from Spain is the perfect choice for a Caesar salad. For an avocado and grapefruit salad, choose the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, which also tastes like grapefruit!

On the Grill, more guests are requesting fish and chicken over the ribs and steak choices. For Salmon on the grill, the perfect choice is actually a red. Red wine with fish, you ask? Select varieties that are low in tannin such as Pinot Noir, Gamay from Beaujolais, and Sangiovese from Tuscany, and again, a rosé from France. These selections would also be perfect for grilled chicken, pork tenderloin, and duck.

For steaks, ribs, and burgers, my favorites are Zinfandel from Paso Robles, Syrah from Amador County, and Cabernet or Merlot from Washington State.

wedding-cake-champagneNow for the biggest mistake in food and wine pairing history: Serving a dry, acidic, sparkling wine with wedding cake. Families are so proud of this moment, that they often accentuate the faux pas of selecting a dry sparkler by spending the equivalent of a first home mortgage on Champagne. There really is a place for expensive Champagne at the wedding; it is for the initial toast, served with canapés, a bit of caviar perhaps, if money is no object.

Cheers! Glasses clinking together ring like wedding bells- a beautiful savory appetizer with a drink of exquisite and dry Champagne. Delicious! Everyone is happy. Just try a sip of the same Champagne with the royal icing covered wedding cake and you will have half-finished glasses and the guests running to the bar for a sweet mixed drink. So what is the perfect sparkler to toast the lucky couple? Something that is also sweet, like the cake. Choose a Moscato D’Asti from Italy. There are several selections, all at a reasonable price, at Utah’s wine stores.

If you are serving the wines outside, in blazing hot weather, make sure the wines are chilled to the proper temperature. Place all sparkling, whites, and rosés in an ice bucket. The reds should not be served at the “room temperature” of the outdoor patio. Even big, bold, heavy red wines can stand a little refreshment. They should be served no warmer than 60 degrees. You can manage this by leaving the reds inside, in a temperature controlled wine fridge, or simply in an air-conditioned room. Just don’t leave them out in the hot weather for hours as the party continues.

If you are a guest at a summer party, of course you would like to bring a gift for the host/hostess. Two choices that will successfully pair with all of the savory dishes, no matter what is served, is a rosé from Provence or a dry sparkling wine from anywhere in the world. You can determine the price. It is guaranteed to work.