By Ed McCarthy, Mary Ewing-Mulligan

When you order wine in a restaurant, you usually have few details about the wines listed on the menu. And if you’re new to the wine scene, you may have trouble remembering which wines go well with which foods. Don’t panic! You don’t have to give in to your uncertainty and skip ordering a glass of wine.

[Credit: Photo © Johns]

Credit: Photo © Johns

The following table lists some wines that are on most restaurant wine lists and are consistently reliable choices with the specified foods.

Reliable Wine Choices When Ordering in a Restaurant
When you want: Order:
A crisp, dry white wine that isn’t very flavorful, to
accompany delicately-flavored fish or seafood
Soave, Pinot Grigio, or Sancerre
A dry white wine with assertive flavor; perfect with mussels
and other shellfish
Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa or New Zealand
A medium-bodied, characterful, dry white wine, for simple
poultry, risotto, and dishes that are medium in weight
Mâcon-Villages, St.-Véran, or
A full-bodied, rich white wine, for lobster or rich chicken
California or Australian Chardonnay
A full-bodied white wine with a honeyed, nutty character; works
with meaty fish, veal, or pork entrées
A medium-dry white wine, for Asian-inspired dishes Chenin Blanc, Vouvray, or German Riesling
An easy-drinking, inexpensive red; perfect with roast
Beaujolais (especially from a reputable producer, like Louis
Jadot, Joseph Drouhin, or Georges Duboeuf)
A versatile, flavorful, relatively inexpensive red that can
stand up to spicy food
California red Zinfandel
A lighter red that’s delicious, young, and works with all
sorts of light- and medium-intensity foods
Oregon or California Pinot Noir
The basic French version of Pinot Noir; try it with simple cuts
of steak
Bourgogne Rouge
A dry, spicy, grapey, and relatively inexpensive red wine
that’s perfect with pizza
Barbera or Dolcetto
A very dry, medium-bodied red that’s great with lots of
Chianti Classico