Know How to Match a Dish to a Wine Perfectly at Your Favourite Ottawa Restaurants
Wine—if you’re new to it, or have only ever enjoyed it casually, it can seem daunting. And it’s understandable to feel that way! There are over a thousand different types of wine grapes, and any quality restaurant in Ottawa could have a selection that will make your head spin. So for your convenience, we’ve listed some of the most popular styles of wine, as well as the kinds of dishes they pair with. Next time you visit your favourite Italian restaurant, you can impress your date or your friends with your knowledge!
Cabernet Sauvignon is arguably the most popular wine variety, and a perfect example of a full red—a dark, rich wine with more tannins, a high alcohol content, and distinctive flavours like black currant or pepper. Pair them with bold and savoury dishes—smoked meats, game, steaks, and anything with a lot of black pepper! They also go great with mushrooms.
Are you craving shellfish, creamy pasta, or chicken? A rich white, such as a Chardonnay or a Sémillon pairs perfectly with these dishes. These wines are the boldest of all white varieties, and many are aged to perfection in oak caskets, lending hints of vanilla or coconut to their taste profiles.
Medium red wines like Zinfandel, Merlot, or Grenache are popular because they pair well with a variety of dishes—particularly those you find at an Italian restaurant! Lasagna, pizza, and other dishes that are heavy on the tomatoes all benefit from a smoothly medium red, as do roasted meats and vegetables, and anything spiced with rosemary.
Dry and packing a flavourful punch, zesty white wines are refreshing and crisp. Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigrio, and unoaked Chardonnay are some of the most popular in this variety, and zesty white wines pair beautifully with seafood, salads, and anything with pesto in it—try it out at one of your favourite Ottawa restaurants.
If you’re looking for something with a subtle flavour profile and a delicate aroma, a light-bodied red wine is right up your alley. These bright, fruity wines are popular amongst beginners, and are notable among red wines for pairing better with white meats than their red cousins. Try pairing a Pinot Noir with a creamy chicken pasta dish—or even a mushroom risotto.
Who says that wine should only be for dinner? Many Italian restaurants will serve dessert wines that pair perfectly with everything from cakes and chocolate, to fruit, cheese, and beyond. Port and Sherry, for example, are perfect dessert wines—but with the high sugar and alcohol contents, you should enjoy them in small amounts to avoid a hangover!
Never hit a restaurant in Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market unprepared to make delicious wine pairings again! And if you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask your server for a recommendation.