We love to host events at Penns Woods Winery—and at our own homes. Our Italian heritage means we know a little something about being gracious hosts (thank you, Nonna!) and about pairing wine for a dinner party.
We believe that entertaining should be fun for everyone, including the host. Check out our top tips for throwing a killer wine pairing dinner that will impress but not stress:
It’s Important to Offer Choices
We can make tons of wine and food pairing recommendations, but when you’re hosting friends and family, it comes down to what people like to drink. Make sure there’s a variety: red, white and rose, covering dry, semi-sweet and sweet. People will remember what they liked—and that you were the host with the most for having it there for the drinking.
Start with Something Light
Who doesn’t love snacking? Have something ready to nibble on when people arrive. We recommend you choose easy-to-prepare big flavors like cheese and charcuterie boards overflowing with local meats, cheeses, spreads, mustards, conserves, chutneys and crackers. Try dry cured meats and bacons from 1732 Meats, cheeses from The Farm at Doe Run and Roundtop Farm and accompaniments from Taste Artisanal Market and Motley Mustard (we’re particularly fond of their mustards made with our Chardonnay and our Riesling). Add a few bowls of nuts and dried fruits to the table, and you’re ready to roll. Bonus: you’ll have time to mingle because you won’t be running apps from the kitchen.
Since your starters cut across all flavor profiles, offer lighter wines for your guests to sip on as they nosh:
Make Salad Sensational
Opposites attract, and we love pairing mustardy arugula or earthy spinach with sweet goat cheese. Make it your own with heirloom cherry tomatoes, a kiss of dried fruit or a sprinkling of chopped nuts. Pair this satisfying salad with Grüner Veltliner, crisp and citrusy with flavors of green apple, lime and white pepper with a burst of acidity to tackle the richness.
Enter the Entrée
You know your friends and family and what main course will result in a home run. We like variety, too, so check out some of our favorite dinners and pairings:
Surprise with a chicken or fish dish in a creamy white sauce.
Think garlic white wine cream, mushroom sauce, Parmesan sauce or lemon butter sauce to wow the palate. They’re simple to make and finish off in the oven, so you’ll have more time to hang with your guests. For these dishes, repurpose your Grüner Veltliner. Move stealthily from the salad course to creamy entrees by pouring more of this worthy companion to rich and dreamy foods.
Choose roast pork tenderloin with plenty of umami.
Rub it with high-quality olive oil and rosemary, garlic, oregano, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Sear it, then finish it in the oven—we’re all about simple and about being with your guests.
Complement the “other white meat” with Chardonnay Reserve, an unoaked yet toasty wine with bright fruit flavors and a hint of nutmeg on the nose.
Bring on the beef.
Let us count the ways you could prepare steaks, tenderloins, roasts—the sky’s the limit. Naturally we recommend something that lingers in the oven or, in nice weather, something you can throw on the grill while friends and family surround you al fresco.
Be bold with your wine choices:
Pick pizza or pasta.
Guess what? The ultimate wine pairing dinner doesn’t have to mean high-falutin’ picks. Sometimes a simple repast with your nearest and dearest can be the most memorable.
Make pizza yourself in the oven, toss a few naan pizzas on the grill or order from your favorite local shop. We also like pasta in a red sauce for utter simplicity and pure tastes. The tomato base in the red sauce on pizza and pasta is savory and, depending on your preference, a bit spicy.
Our absolute go-to for pizza and pasta is Chambourcin, which is full of pomegranate and sage notes with earthy flavors and just a bit of a black pepper kick.
Crush a dinner party with an Asian flair.
The gloves are off here because the selection is huge, spanning major regional cuisine hubs throughout the continent and into the Middle East. You can choose from blistering spices to cool creams and everything in between. What suits your guests?
You’ll need an all-purpose powerhouse--Traminette, with its sweet smells of honey and lemon that give way to a crisp, refreshing, minerally finish. It’s complex, just like Asian cuisine.
Don’t Forget Dessert
As if forgetting dessert is even a thing! We’re suggesting sweet and savory for a fantastic finish.
Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.
It doesn’t matter if it’s locally made ice cream, artisan brownies, molten lava cake or the world’s largest selection of craft candies—everyone loves chocolate. You’re certain to hit it out of the park when chocolate is on the menu.
In this case, pair luscious with luscious! Lacrima Dolce is our Merlot-based dessert wine with perfectly balanced tannins and silky flavors of ripe cherry, chocolate and cinnamon. Chocolate has met its match!
Choose a cheese course for rustic panache.
You can still end the meal with a cheese course even if you started with a cheese board, as this is a more simple, totally savory selection. We like The Farm at Doe Run’s St. Malachi, a hard cheese with nutty notes, and its buttery Blow Horn cheese. Toss a few crackers out and you’re done.
It’s dessert, so offer these sweet treats:
Final Tips for the Win
Salute to your success as the ultimate wine pairing dinner host!
Penns Woods Winery is a family-run Pennsylvania winery. With more than 40 years of experience in the wine business, winemaker Gino Razzi and his daughter, Carley Mack, produce award-winning wines from Pennsylvania-grown grapes. Penns Woods wines can be found in restaurants throughout Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs. Stop in to your local state store and pick from a limited selection of wines, or visit our tasting room for the full offering. The tasting room in Chadds Ford provides an all-around vineyard experience and hosts live music, food and wine pairings and other exciting events each weekend. Score Penns Woods Winery news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter today!
Go behind the scenes with the Penns Woods Winery team in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.