Miliotes Article Image.jpg

This Content is made possible by our Sponsor; it is not written by and
does not necessarily reflect the views of
The Atlantic's editorial staff. 

If you find yourself intimidated by the complexities of wine pairing, take heart. You're not alone. There can be a lot to consider when coupling wines and foods, but according to George Miliotes, Master Sommelier of The Capital Grille (pictured above), a few simple, guiding principles will take you far.

Don't Over-think It
"Wine pairing isn't something you need a degree in, or years of study to do," Miliotes notes. "Just keep it simple and remember the basics. A bold red wine goes well with heavier red meat and shellfish pairs beautifully with a white like Sauvignon Blanc. And when in doubt, go with a Pinot Noir. It's flexible enough to pair with either a seafood dish or a heavier steak."

Miliotes also looks at the complexity of dishes when considering pairings. If the dish is fairly simple, like peel-and-eat shrimp, he recommends an equally simple white wine like Vinho Verde. As the dish becomes more powerful (fresh salmon, for example) he favors a wine with a fuller body and richer bouquet, like a Chardonnay.

To Chill, Or Not To Chill
According to Miliotes, one of the most common mistakes when it comes to wine is incorrect serving temperatures: many serve their white wines too cold and their reds too warm. He suggests that white wine be taken out of the fridge in advance of serving and poured when slightly chilled, but not cold. When using an ice bucket, he cautions against submerging the bottle in ice water. Instead, rest the bottle on top of the ice. "Remember, cold dulls the flavors, so don't overdo the chill," he warns.

Reds on the other hand are often served too warm, which contributes to an overly "alcoholic" taste. Miliotes advises putting red wines in the refrigerator roughly five to ten minutes before serving.

Malbec's Moment
One of Miliotes favorite pairings right now is Malbec with spicy food--red meat in particular. "There's something about the rich fruitiness of Malbec that allows it to stand up to a little spice. The two flavors complement each other quite well."

At the end of the day, the cardinal rule is to keep this simple. Says Miliotes: "Wine pairing is easier than it looks and diners should forget about making 'mistakes.' After all, if you have good wine and good food, how can that ever be a mistake?"