Food & Home

woman on a picnic

Photo courtesy of Beth Studenberg/The Licensing

Food and Wine Pairings for Different Occasions and Moods

In partnership with our friends at Dry Farm Wines

The right wine can make a meal more delicious. The fruitiness, acidity, minerality, or earthiness in a wine can play off of or accentuate your food, be it rich and creamy Camembert or spicy Thai larb. There are certain wines that feel especially suited to particular occasions—making a night in seem cozier or a holiday more festive. But selecting your bottle certainly does not need to be an exacting affair, our friends at Dry Farm Wines say.

Dry Farm Wines has a radically transparent model that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the wine industry. It sources natural wines from small and independent vintners all over the world. Then it has everything tested at independent labs to ensure everything is up to its standards. Every bottle you get from Dry Farm Wines has complete workup of information available online that includes the region and grape varietal along with ABV (alcohol by volume) and residual sugar levels (what’s left after fermentation). The wines have alcohol levels below that of conventional wines and have sugar levels so low (less than one gram per liter, for example) that they’re essentially considered sugar-free. (According to the FDA, anything with less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving is sugar-free. There are at least four servings in a standard liter bottle of wine.) While the folks at Dry Farm are exquisite curators of wine, perhaps the thing they’re best at is making it all feel fun and approachable. We gave them a few different scenarios for wine and food pairings—and they nailed every mood.


What to Look For:

  1. Bubbles—pét-nats if you can find them.

  2. Unfiltered and skin-contact wines for a dynamic full expression of the grape.

  3. Well-balanced wines are versatile for food pairings.

Dry Farm Wines Pick:

NV Denny Bini Spuma Emilia Frizzante

It’s a rustic Italian wine that ticks a lot of celebratory boxes. The pop of opening a sparkling wine sets the tone for the evening. This one is a pét-nat, so it has a light, delicate bubble from natural fermentation. You get a lot of flavor because it’s a skin-contact wine and unfiltered (which also makes it look a bit cloudy). It essentially contains the fullest expression of the grape—stems, skin, seeds, yeast, and all. The grape is Lambrusco di Sorbara, though Spuma is certainly less sweet than a typical Lambrusco wine. It’s incredibly well-balanced, so foodwise, it goes with almost anything. It’s also enjoyable on its own, sans food.

  1. Fuso Spuma! Frizzante

To Complete the Mood

  1. Zalto Champagne Glass
    Zalto Champagne Glass goop, $62

    Cheers, santé, salud!

  2. La DoubleJ Dress
    La DoubleJ Dress goop, $930

    Any excuse to dress up.

  3. Estelle Cake Stand
    Estelle Cake Stand goop, $225

    For a festive finish.



What to Look For:

  1. Wines with lower sugar and lower ABV are a better choice for daytime drinking.

  2. Whites grown in warmer climates that won’t suffer at room temperature.

  3. Something bright with acidity to balance your menu—our picnic basket always has some rich elements like nuts, cheese, charcuterie, or hummus.

Dry Farm Wines Pick:

2020 Craig and Carla Hawkins Love Is More Than a Feeling White

This South African wine—made from Chenin Blanc grapes—is true to its warm coastal growing climate. It’s got some minerality, and surprisingly, it still tastes nice at room temperature, once the chill has worn off. When it’s super chilled, those mineral notes are right up front, but as it mellows to room temperature, you’ll get more subtle fruity notes. So no need to stress over the cooler and ice. All Dry Farm Wines skew lower in alcohol, but this is one of the lowest at 11.56% ABV, making it ideal for daytime drinking. It’s not overly acidic, but it can cut through some rich foods you might have packed for your picnic.

  1. More Than a Feeling

To Complete the Mood

  1. Medina Mercantile Basket
    Medina Mercantile Basket goop, $60

    A very chic haul.

  2. Onyx Tiffin
    Onyx Tiffin goop, $32

    Stacks of snacks.

  3. Fashionit Speakers
    Fashionit Speakers goop, $95

    Bring the ambience with you.



What to Look For:

  1. Wood-barrel-aged wines have a more luscious mouthfeel that will linger on your palate.

  2. Bold-flavored wines for pairing with bold foods.

  3. Check the region and winemaking style—these can result in very different flavor profiles, even from the same grape.

Dry Farm Wines Pick:

2018 Domaine Amirault La Ferme des Fontaines Chenin Blanc

Just because you’re staying in and having dinner in sweatpants doesn’t mean you can’t have great wine. This Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley is bold, rich, and complex—lots going on here. While it’s made from the same grape varietal as the picnic wine above, this Chenin Blanc is wildly different because it’s from a cooler climate, so it drinks best chilled. It has a slightly higher alcohol content than the picnic wine. And it’s aged in neutral oak barrels, which doesn’t impart flavor, but the porous wood allows for oxidization, resulting in an incredibly luscious palate-coating effect. This wine can stand up to bold flavors, so don’t be shy with your menu.

  1. La Ferme des Fontaines Chenin Blanc

To Complete the Mood

  1. La DoubleJ Placemats
    La DoubleJ Placemats goop, $80

    An easy way to dress up your table.

  2. Ulla Johnson Marta Cardigan
    Ulla Johnson Cardigan goop, $445

    In a word: cozy.

  3. WS Game Company Scrabble
    WS Game Company Scrabble goop, $200

    Always chasing that triple word score.



What to Look For:

  1. Approachable wines with an interesting story will please novice and expert wine drinkers alike.

  2. Old-vine wines: Small but mighty crops produce wines with intense flavor.

  3. Earthy, aged reds—the depth of flavor works well with anything grilled.

Dry Farm Wines Pick:

2017 Domaine Jourdan Une Passion de Nature

When you’re hosting a BBQ, your guests’ level of wine knowledge will likely vary. Looking for something approachable enough for a wine novice and interesting enough for your experts? This Cab Franc fits the bill. It’s very earthy, with some acid, made from old-vine grapes, meaning the vines have been harvested for upwards of twenty years. Old vines tend to produce fewer grapes, but those grapes are packed with flavor. This wine is also aged in barrels, then bottled and aged some more, so both the color and flavor have had a chance to develop and intensify over time. It’s ideal for anything charred coming off the grill—rib eye steaks, merguez sausages, shishito peppers, or za’atar flatbread.

  1. Une Passion de Nature Cabernet Franc

To Complete the Mood

  1. Stinson Studios Bowl
    Stinson Studios Bowl goop, $190

    The prettiest everyday salad bowl.

  2. Fique + Clay  Placemat
    Fique + Clay Placemat goop, $24

    For a look that’s both earthy
    and put-together.

  3. Estelle Glasses
    Estelle Glasses goop, $160

    We like tumblers for a more
    laid-back vibe.