When it comes to coupling wine with
food, who hasn’t relied on the age-old rule of pairing
white wine with fish and red wine with meat? Well, think again.
That rule is outdated, according to Kim Fallon, wine steward at the
Lodge at Sonoma (Calif.). In fact, she argues, if the food is
well-balanced and harmoniously integrated, almost any well-made
wine will work.
This caveat underscores the uncertain and often mysterious
process of matching wine with cuisine. While planners usually can
rely on trained banquet staff for advice, Fallon (whose skills have
helped the Lodge win the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence two
years in a row) offers a few tips to keep in mind when planning the
1. Buy locally when possible. A great way to
offer a taste of the meeting destination is to drink from fruit
grown in nearby vineyards. “Local wines speak to the area you have
chosen for your meeting,” says Fallon. “By choosing a local
variety, you can absorb some color from the surrounding
2. Experiment. The products of lesser-known
vintners can be just as impressive as those of big-name wineries.
For example, while Fallon tries incorporating “benchmark” wines
such as Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages or Robert Young Chardonnay,
she also encourages guests to sample from some of the area’s
smaller producers, such as the Nicholson Ranch and the Robledo
3. Watch your numbers. Big groups beware.
Small wineries are known to produce only 200 cases of wine each
year and sometimes will balk at filling larger orders.