Choose the right wine for the occasion.


two people carrying a picnic basketYou want something light, portable, and easy to enjoy—and that goes well with cold fried chicken or fruit and cheese. But don't over-think the food part. Any of these wines will work wonderfully. Bonus points if they have screw caps (in case you forget the corkscrew).

  • Pinot Grigio: Crisp, mild, refreshing, and all-purpose.
  • Riesling: Romantic, fruity yet acidic; pairs perfectly with salami, cheese, and pâté.
  • Pinot Noir: Velvety strawberry, lighter than your typical red, and food friendly.
  • Chenin Blanc: Sweet and fruity with hints of pears, apricots, and melons.


young couple enjoying wine at a tailgateWine has now surpassed beer as America's alcoholic beverage of choice. Which makes it the perfect fit for an all-American tailgate. Whether your style is burgers and chips or brie and baguettes, there's a worthy wine for your tailgate.

  • Red Zinfandel: Stands up to grilled meats and barbecue, and produced in America. Perfect.
  • Shiraz: Food friendly; works with the grill or a surprise potluck. Be shameless; buy it in a box for portability. We won't judge.
  • Cava: Spanish bubbly, it says “celebrate,” without the pretension.


wine glasses on a trayThe best party choices? According to Andrea Immer in her book Great Wine Made Simple, they are fruit-forward styles, which don't need to be served with a meal to shine. Set them out with a few corkscrews, and you can enjoy the party while guests help themselves.

  • California Sauvignon Blanc
  • Australian Chardonnay
  • California Zinfandel
  • Australian Shiraz

Australian winemaker Michael Scholz suggests starting with something light, then building up to more intense flavors as a meal progresses.

  • Champagne or sparkling wine to start
  • Pinot Noir with turkey
  • Shiraz for a spicy follow-up


turkey with wineFor Thanksgiving, focus less on the food (which will span the range), and more on the family. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Pinot Noir: Food friendly and well loved by many. Choose one from Oregon.
  • White Zinfandel, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, or Moscato d'Asti: Sweeter wines that are easier for less experienced drinkers to appreciate.
  • Beaujolais: French wine from the Gamay grape that somehow charms both novice wine drinkers and connoisseurs.
  • Italian Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese: Pinot Grigio is light enough to be a pre-dinner drink, and tart cherry Sangiovese is a refreshing counterpoint to heavier foods.