Traditionally, when you invite your friends over to socialize, it consists of a dinner-party type menu paired with a number of exquisite wines. However, in today’s hectic world, very few people have time to entertain to such an extent.
It’s becoming increasingly popular to order in a takeout when inviting company to ‘dinner’, and why not? It’s a great wait to skip all the hassle of fussing and cooking that’s usually involved in preparing a dinner party. But, never fear, this doesn’t mean you have to abandon food entertainment altogether at home. These days, you can be forgiven if you don’t have the urge or time to cook for friends; it’s totally acceptable.
Ordering food in for your ‘dinner party’ is becoming the norm, but it isn’t deciding which cuisine to opt for that’s the arduous task, because there’s an overwhelming choice of Thai, Chinese, Cantonese, Mexican, Italian, and Japanese local takeout joints to choose from. No, the difficulty lies in choosing the right wines, and knowing which wine goes with a spicy Caribbean curry or a chicken ramen dish can be a more challenging than it seems. If you’re stuck in this wine predicament, here are a few tips on how to curate your ‘catered’ dinner affair.
Who doesn’t love Chinese food? With a rich and varied cuisine that spans across a country that’s culturally rich in food and tastes, there’s a plethora of Chinese dishes to choose from.
Obviously, each person has different tastes when it comes to ordering Chinese takeout, but statistics show we favor gong bao chicken, sweet and sour pork, spring rolls, egg fried rice, Peking duck, mo pa tofu, dumplings, and chow mein.
Typically, the Chinese aren’t huge wine drinkers, but when they do indulge, they usually opt for a safe medium dry wine, which is no surprise as it complements some of the more common Chinese herbs and spices including ginger, Szechuan pepper and five-spice powder.
A smooth Syrah is perfect to help hold the unique fusion of sweet and spicy. You have a number of choices when it comes to choosing the right Syrah wine. Californian Syrah wines are fruity and forward, meaning they’re likely to infuse the foods’ flavors more, making the experience even more intense. Or you can opt for a Syrah from the Rhône Valley, where the Syrah wine varieties are more restrained and subtle.
When it comes to Chinese sweets and take-outs, there are fewer options than the main courses, but for a little bit of fun, you can serve Chinese fortune cookies with a glass of sweet Moscato – you’ll be surprised how well these go together.
Sushi has always been a fashionable food, however, it’s also an acquired taste. Making sushi rolls stuffed with salmon, spicy tuna and avocado is doable, and today sushi ingredients are widely available in most stores, but it is a fiddly recipe, and more often than not it’s much easier to get a Japanese takeout in for convenience sake.
Pairing wine with sushi is surprisingly easy. The subtle tastes of sushi aren’t as overpowering as some other Asian cuisines. Tropical fruit infused wines with lighter spice and floral notes work perfectly. They go well with a variety of seafood dishes, and they even hold up if you’ve smothered the sushi with wasabi, soy sauce and rice vinegar. Have a few lighter wine varieties on offer such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Albariño.
Here’s a hot tip. If you want a variety of different sushi rolls to offer your guests, drop into your local Japanese restaurant with a platter, and ask them to arrange different types of sushi in a decorative way – this will really impress your guests, and they’ll never even know your takeout secret.
Almost every person loves a good a Mexican meal. There’s something about Mexican that appeals to many. The spice is just right, the blend of flavors is perfect, and you’re able to build your own meal, tailoring it to your preferences. For a simple Mexican themed dinner party ordering salsa, guacamole, and a variety of quesadillas and soft tacos is a must.
Again, you have a number of fruity options when it comes to pairing wines with Mexican food. Your spicy dips are accentuated and cooled by a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc whereas a glass of malbec or zinfandel is an obvious choice to pair with tacos, as the smoky spicy notes of the food will surely bring out the fruity undertones of the wines.
If you want to be the host with the most and wow your guests, after finishing your delicious Mexican feast paired with your fruity light wines, serve a traditional Mexican dessert of vanilla ice cream smothers in cajeta, a specialist Mexican condensed milk.
Ordering pizza in is an old favorite. Everyone has their preferred pizza toppings, but instead of ordering the usual Margherita or pepperoni pizza, allow your bottles of wine to pick the pie instead for the ultimate pizza-wine experience. Just because you’re ordering Italian it doesn’t mean you have to order an Italian red wine – there are no rules, unless of course you’re eating with Italians and then it’s a whole other story.
Take a look at what wine you already have stored on your wine rack. If you’re anything like the rest of us, it’s likely you have quite the selection to choose from.
An herbaceous and light Pinot Noir is ideal with a more simplistic pizza such as a Margherita or pepperoni pizza. Pinot Noir tends to be rich in fruits with enough acidity to pair with tomato bases, mozzarella, cured beef, and paprika or cayenne pepper.
Cabernet Franc is often described as a fun and flirtatious wine. With its subtle fragrances, pairing Cabernet Franc with a vegetarian pizza option is the way forward. The earthy notes of a Cabernet Franc and its delicate red berry flavor bring out the sweeter tastes of the oven-baked vegetables dressed in mozzarella.
If you have the quintessential Mediterranean wine, Vermentino, in your wine cellar, the obvious choice of pizza would be one topped with a generous helping of salty anchovies. The tasting notes of Vermentino have been described as somewhat racy with a stimulating acidity, which is why this refreshing dry white wine matches these salty fish delights seamlessly.
If you want to wind down and really enjoy your meal at home with your guests, take away the stress of spending hours upon hours researching the perfect meal and cooking. Instead order in your favorite takeaway and pair it flawlessly with a few bottles of wine, and impress them with your ability to pair wines with takeaways instead of whipping up a five-course meal from scratch.