Wine can be divided into 5 basic classes: appetizer wines, white table wines, red table wines, sweet dessert wines and sparkling wines.

Serving Wine

Serve appetizer wines well chilled, either straight (undiluted) or over ice. All white wines should be served chilled. Depending o the type, red wines are served either cool or chilled or at room temperature. Most dessert wines may be served cool or chilled. Sparkling wines, often served for special occasions, are always served chilled and go well with any food at any occasion.

The best way to learn about wine is to experiment until you find the one you like best. Try a few of the wines in each of the five classes, and for first-time testing, buy wine in small bottles. Some wines complement certain foods more than others.

Wine With Food

Traditionally, white wines are served with white meats such as poultry, fish, and seafood; red wines accompany red meats and dishes with red or brown sauces; rosé and sparkling wines are served with any food. Sweet dessert wines are served with dessert, after dinner and as a between-meal refreshment.

However, let your own taste and personal preference be your guide. Just remember to serve light wines with light foods and heavier, full-bodied wines with fuller-flavored, richer foods. That way food and wine will complement, not over-power, each other.

Cooking With Wine

Easy to use, and inexpensive, wine will enhance your favorite recipes for soups, broiled fish and meat, roasts and stews. Special cooking wines are lightly salted, so that you cannot drink them. Make sure to use the type of cooking wine called for in the recipe, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Experts recommend cooking with wine of a quality you would like to drink – use some in the recipe and serve more to enjoy as a beverage with the food. Here are a few suggestions about how to cook with wine.

To flavor soups, add a tablespoon of wine for each cup of liquid; try adding sherry to consommé, chicken, or vegetable soups; Burgundy or claret go well in minestrone.

Add a light Rhine wine to melted butter and pour over fish before baking or broiling, or poach seafood in cooking liquid laced with sherry.

A dash of sauterne will improve the flavor of gravy for roast poultry, while a dash of Burgundy or Chianti adds depth to a rich gravy for duckling or goose.

Red wines add that extra flavor to beef dishes, too (try it in your spaghetti sauce). Stir in Chianti or Zinfandel to gravy for roast beef or in stews, or add Chianti or Burgundy to barbecue sauce for serving with broiled beef steaks and hamburgers.