Some of the best wine and food pairings from 2023 to enjoy now

Since eating is a necessity, we’re lucky that it can also be extremely pleasurable, especially with the addition of a well-chosen wine. Here are a few of my best wine and food experiences from 2023, which you can re-create whether dining solo or in the company of friends. Look for my wine picks below or ask your wine merchant for their suggestions:

White wine with meat

“White wine with fish; red wine with meat” is a tried-and-true guideline. White wine’s tart acid cleanses the palate from fishy flavors, like a squeeze of lemon. Red wine’s tannic acid binds with fat and protein, like black coffee binds with cream, helping the body digest meat. But carnivores who can’t or won’t drink red wine have a white wine option: a moderately to richly oaked Chardonnay. Chardonnay meets the weight of red and white meats with sturdy alcohol. Oak accents echo charry meat flavors. Add mushrooms, truffles or truffled potatoes, and your Chardonnay will sing in umami harmony. And, if chosen wisely, your Chardonnay will also offer tart acidity for a palate pick-me-up. (Vegetarians, substitute grilled portobello mushrooms; be sure to stuff them with cow’s milk cheese to enhance Chardonnay’s “buttery” characteristics.) Note that, in general, I prefer light- to medium-bodied wines to pair with food and to save my palate and sobriety. Some of my favorite Chardonnays for meat include:

Chardonnay “Dutton Ranch,” Dutton-Goldfield Winery 2021 (USA): This Sonoma County winery farms multiple cool-climate vineyards to express unique and beautifully balanced flavors in their specialties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The “Dutton Ranch” Chardonnay is rich and savory, my choice for a T-bone (rare, please); add Dungeness crab or lobster for surf and turf. Available on the website, $40: 2021 Dutton Ranch Chardonnay || Dutton-Goldfield Winery (

Chardonnay “Reserve,” Xanadu, 2021 (Australia): The Australian Rathbone family established their wine group in 1996, relying on Margaret River’s cool climate to produce complex Chardonnay that is lush, texturous and uplifted. Wines are grown from the region’s unique GinGin clone, hand-picked and naturally fermented with Indigenous yeast and then oak-matured for nine months. If Oz wines have fallen off your shopping list since their massive U.S. market penetration in the early 2000s, Darren Rathbone gives us the best reason to return: “Our family’s vineyards are 30 years older. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about viticulture.” Reportedly available at Macy’s Wine Shop, Bottles Up, Wine Studio of Galena and Vin Chicago for about $100.

Play with your food

Serve two wines with your meal for maximum flexibility and fun. Salmon, for instance, is a classic choice with white wine but has enough fat to pair with light red, with melt-in-your-mouth texture ranking high in sensual satisfaction. My Southeast Asian-ish house blend of soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, lime and cilantro offers layers of complexity through which to weave wine flavors. For red, choose Pinot Noir with its silky tannin; choose a delicately sweet white to balance salmon’s sweetness and ginger’s spice. My current favorites, available at boutique shops including In Fine Spirits (5418 N. Clark St., Chicago), are:

Vouvray Sec, Domaine de La Croix des Vainqueurs 2021 (France): This French white wine was once a staple on U.S. tables but is now approaching the endangered list, along with its glorious chenin blanc grape. Styles range from dry to honey-sweet, both still and sparkling. This wine is still (no bubbles), with a whisper of sweetness (indicated by the term sec), soft on the palate, with gentle acidity. While too light for cured salmon, the wine’s vivacity pairs with many salmon preparations, including sauteed or grilled, sushi, salad or scrambled into eggs. About $18.

Pinot Noir, Monte degli Angeli 2020 (Italy): Italian Pinot Noir is something you don’t see every day unless, like me, you make Monte degli Angeli your house red. It tastes like Pinot Noir with a rustic, earthy, barely ripe berry flavor. It tastes like Piedmont with a lean, delineated structure. Serve with sauteed or grilled salmon. Sure, New World Pinot has plenty to love, with its ripe, juicy flavor. I drink classic French Burgundian Pinot Noir when someone else is buying. This is session Pinot, to enjoy for cocktails, through the meal, and into a long and, hopefully, satisfying evening.

• Mary Ross is an Advanced Sommelier (Court of Master Sommeliers), a Certified Wine Educator (Society of Wine Educators) and a recipient of the Wine Spectator’s “Grand Award of Excellence.” Write to her at

Ross’ choice

Wine name: Le Rosè

Producer: Champagne Lanson

Region: Champagne, France

Vintage: Non-Vintage

Availability: At wine and liquor chains, about $80

Distributed by: Southern Glazer’s Wines & Spirits, Bolingbrook

Tasting notes: Salmon-pink to the eye, an inviting nose of red berries, round and supple on the palate. Predominantly Pinot (53% Noir, 15% Meunier), with a whisper of sweetness (8 grams per liter), the wine is a blend of 100 vineyard sites and 35% reserve wines, adding up to a wine of body, charm and sophistication, with richness enough for savory appetizers (I enjoyed it with blue cheese-stuffed mushrooms) and moderately rich entrèes including surf (see my Asian-inspired salmon) and turf (the finest of steaks). Lanson has contributed to satisfying meals and memories since 1760 as one of the original Champagne houses.

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