Love lasagna? Here’s how to pair different wines with different varieties of lasagna

Lasagna, the great Italian comfort food, is always a crowd pleaser. The layers of pasta, meat and sauce always go down well. But did you know there are so many types of lasagne? Beyond the traditional tomato and béchamel variety, there is a wide range of varieties that include a creamy white sauce and a pesto-driven option. This week, Ideal Wine Company is showing you some of our favourite lasagnes and what wine to serve with them.

Ideal Wine Company wine and lasagna
Did you know there are so many types of lasagne? Here’s what wine you should be pairing with them…

Red lasagne– high acidity and dried fruit

Perhaps the most common type of lasagna, red lasagne is usually the first variety to come to mind. With its traditional tomato and béchamel sauce combination, it is stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta and meat. This hearty and warming meal works well with an equally intense red wine. Try opting for Aglianico, a black grape wine found in the South of Italy. This wine’s high tannin content complements this rich and fatty dish. In addition, the dried fruit flavours and the high acidity work perfectly to cut through the slightly sweet tanginess of the hearty tomato sauce.

White lasagne– look for leanness

If you’re looking for something a bit different with your lasagna, a white lasagna, or lasagne blanca, is a great alternative. Rather than using the traditional bolognaise tomato sauce, a white lasagne consists of peas, mushrooms, Italian sausage and a creamy white sauce. With this type of dish, you should be pairing it with a wine like Arneis. This Piedmontese grape is a zingy and lean white wine that acts like a herb. When served with béchamel or other creamy white sauces, it infuses the dish with earthy and unmistakable green notes. With the amount of heavy creaminess in this dish, the wine’s lean and olive driven qualities are sure to cleanse your palette.

Pesto lasagne– opt for rich and white

This pesto-based alternative of traditional lasagne combines parmesan cheese, basil, pine nuts and olive oil. The result is a dish that is full of flavour and aroma. If you’re serving this dish with wine, you can’t go wrong with a Vermentino. This equally lean and green option is dry, a touch oily and just bitter enough to provide the perfect partner to the fragrant lasagna. This Italian white provides the perfect aromatic hints of herby green to complement the pesto.

Sangiovese – the universal choice to pair with lasagne

If you’re eating any type of lasagna, Sangiovese is perfect. This really is a one-bottle-suits-all type of wine. In almost all cases, the tart and savoury wine drinks well with the intensity of lasagna. This is because the high acid and rustic flavours you can expect in Sangiovese will cut through the creamy fat and tangy tomato at the same time.

This really is the perfect choice for any type of lasagne. It’s always worth having a bottle to hand next time you make any type of lasagna!

No matter what your favourite type of lasagne is, you’ll easily be able to find the perfect wine match. Take a good look at what flavours and textures the sauce is bringing. A good rule to follow is to pair creamy sauces with lean wines and lean sauces with richer offerings. With so many lasagnas to try – and wines to pair them with- you’ll find the perfect choice for you.

Understanding Wine Vintages and Why They Matter to You

Wine can be dramatically affected by its vintage. The same grapes from the same vineyard take on distinctively different characteristics depending on the year they were harvested. We all know we should try good vintages to maximise our tasting experience, but first, we need to know what we’re looking for. Ideal Wine Company is this week breaking down how vintages can change wine and what to seek to get the best out of the experience.

Ideal Wine Company wine vintage
We’re breaking down how vintages can change wine and what to seek to get the best out of the experience.

What is a wine vintage?

First of all, the vintage of wine is the year it was produced in. When the grape was grown and harvested leads to many changes in flavours. The taste and quality can be affected, primarily because of the different weather. These conditions alter the vines and how they are growing throughout the year. The vintage date is found on the bottle, label or even cork.

The defining feature of a vintage is sunshine. If the year has seen plenty of sunny weather, the grapes are given the best chance to reach full maturity and optimum ripeness levels. However, too much heat, defined as too many days above 33 ºC, and the grapes will dry out which can lead to bitter tannins in your wine. If the year is particularly rainy or cloudy, the grapes do not fully ripen. This makes them prone to rot and disease, delivering lower quality grapes.

Wines without a vintage date are usually made by blending multiple years together. If you opt for a non-vintage wine, you’ll usually find more consistency. They are typically a house style wine that is good value but does not offer unique distinctions from year to year.

Signs to look out for

You can determine how good the vintage will be by looking out for signs in the weather. Each season has key features that can change how your wine tastes.

  • Spring: Look out for early snow and hail-storms, as these can break off flowers and buds. This could potentially reduce the crops by 100%. A sunny spring is perfect for growing wine -and drinking it!
  • Summer: For both us and grapes, rain in summer can put a dampener on things! Wet weather during the simmer can cause disease which ruin grapes. In addition, droughts and exceptionally hot weather can cause vines to pause their growth. A mild but sunny summer are the ideal conditions for a good vintage.
  • Autumn: Harvest time is the most important season for grapes. Bad weather in this period can greatly reduce the quality of the vintage. Rain can cause grapes to swell, which means they can either lose concentration or even rot. Cold weather will stop the grapes from ripening.

When vintage should matter

The wine vintage will play the biggest role in regions where the climate is very variable. If you’re buying a bottle from northern Europe, such as France, Germany or Northern Italy, you should be paying attention to the vintage.

If your wine is from a predictable climate, such as Portugal, Argentina, Australia, California and Southern Italy, you’ll see more consistency year-on-year. This makes vintage less important.

Knowing the vintage of your wine can be important, but may not be your biggest concern. If you’re buying a wine from a region where there is a lot of difference between vintages, however, it is one of the most crucial factors you should know before you buy. A little bit of research here can go a long way!

Find your perfect burger wine pairing!

Burgers are so versatile, making them one of the most popular meals for many of us and because they are so versatile there are so many wines to be matched with them. This week, Ideal Wine Company brings you the ultimate guide to the perfect wines to pair with your burger…

Ideal Wine Company Wine and Burger
Ideal Wine Company bring you the ultimate guide to the perfect wines to pair with your burger…

For a classic burger – balance sweet and bitter

Most of us are familiar with the classic burger, with meat, lettuce, tomato and onion, it’s a universal favourite. The best wine to pair with a classic burger is one that has an element of bitter and sweet, to create the perfect balance.

For this, we recommend trying a Grenache. This red wine pairs perfectly with grilled meat and suitably showcases the beef of the burger. The berry-flavour and spice of the wine create a great balance between bitterness and sweetness that rounds out the flavour and is soft on the palate.

Take your cheeseburger – focus on tannins and savoury notes

Similar to the classic burger, but with cheese, bringing tang and creaminess to your meal. When looking for a wine to pair with this, the level of tannin is a key element. This acts as a palate cleanser and lightens the heaviness of the cheese. As well, cheeseburgers tend to work well with savoury notes, as this will help to prevent the creaminess of the cheese from becoming overwhelming.

Cheeseburgers are perfect with Cabernet. The good levels of tannins in the wine refresh the palate and keep the flavours harmonious. The flavours of tomato, roasted pepper, blackcurrant and dried leather are savoury enough and better complement the cheese and ground beef combination. A perfectly balanced experience!

If a barbecue bacon cheeseburger is your favourite – look for dark fruits and spice

There’s a lot of flavour in a barbecue bacon cheeseburger. Although there is a lot of intensity loaded into each bite, a good rule to follow is to focus on the sauce. With barbecue, you’ll want dark fruit and some spice.

For this, there’s no better option than a Syrah. The smoky, earthy red works well to bring together the flavours of the burger. It really showcases the sweetness and spiciness of barbecue sauce and creates a good balance between the two strong flavours.

Bite into a mushroom Swiss burger – with something nutty and sweet

This vegetarian option is made up from grilled mushroom and a slice of nutty and buttery swiss cheese. The earthy flavours of these two key ingredients need to be matched by an earthy sweetness to round out the flavours and lighten the dish.

For this, try opting for a Merlot. The fruitiness of the wine is inherently sweeter, which is perfect for pairing with earthy flavours. With aromas of black cherry, berries, plum, chocolate and some herbs, as well as soft characteristics, a Merlot won’t overpower the subtle flavours of mushroom and swiss cheese.

When it comes to burgers, there are plenty more to choose from. A good final tip is to stick to red wines when the meat is beef and consider the sauce on the burger when looking for the perfect pair. White’s work well with white meat and you can pair both white and red well with vegetarian burgers.

Top Tips for Serving Wine with Red Meat

As a general rule, most of us accept that red meat works best with red wine. As red wines are usually heavier in body and have a bolder taste, it is usually our first choice to match the richer taste of red meat. But with so many varieties of both red meat and wine, what should you be serving with each type of red meat? This week, Ideal Wine Company is bringing you our favourite suggestions for serving wine with red meat.

Ideal Wine Company red meat and wine
With so many varieties of both red meat and wine, what should you be serving with each type of red meat?

Lean meat – go light

Due to the higher tannic value, alcohol content and antioxidant density, bold red wines are perfect for red meat. The fat content of the protein-dense food takes us a while to digest and is, therefore, best met with a heavy red wine. A rich cut of red meat, such as a prime rib, pairs nicely with a bold and high tannin red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Should you be using a relatively lean cut of red meat, try using a wine with lower tannins and a lower alcohol percentage. A rule worth remembering is the leaner the meat, the lighter the wine.

Lamb requires delicacy

Unlike most other red meats, lamb is delicate in both flavour and texture. As a result of this, you’ll want to adjust your wine match slightly to accommodate for this. Selecting a bolder red wine with a smoother tannin should work well. A Syrah or a Malbec are perfect options for lamb.

A top tip to remember is that lamb often takes on the flavour of any sauce that is paired with it. This means you should pay close attention to whatever sauce is being served with the meat before choosing your wine.

Match the intensity

When it comes to pairing beef with wine, there are several variables that must come into consideration. With so many ways to serve the meat, this can alter your wine selection drastically. For leaner cuts of beef, look for a light or medium-bodied red wine. These should have a slightly higher acidity that is useful for cutting through the texture of the lean meat.

For fatty cuts of beef, look for a bold red wine with high tannin. As tannins are astringents that work as a palate cleanser, these tannins help to lighten your palate between bites. Our top choices for serving with fatty meats are wines like a Barolo or a Napa Cabernet.

Should you be serving your beef in a stew, you’ll want to match the intensity of the dish with a wine. For example, a top sirloin beef stew works perfectly with a slightly bolder, medium red. A Sangiovese is an excellent choice.

It’s all about the sauce

If you’re serving your red meat with a sauce, this becomes an important aspect to consider. These can drastically alter the taste of the meat and can even open up a wider range of wine for you to choose from.

  • Tangy sauces: Let’s take BBQ sauces for example, look for a fruity red wine. Lambrusco, Shiraz, Syrah, Zinfandel, Primitivo and Negroamaro are all good starting points.
  • Green sauces: Whether this is a mint sauce or a chimichurri, look for fruity bold red wines with smoother tannins. Try opting for a Malbec or a Monastrell.
  • Tomato sauces: The classic Italian Marinara sauce is often paired well with red meat. If you’re serving a tomato sauce, a medium-bodied red with good acidity is perfect, such as a Sangiovese, Merlot or a Bardolino.
  • White sauces: Creamy white sauces offer a variety of pairing options. From peppercorn sauce to a Béchamel, you’ll want to base your choice on the strength of the sauce. A peppercorn sauce works well with Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, due to their peppery notes. A Béchamel requires a medium-bodied red, such as a Valpolicella Ripasso. The power of the white sauce is key here, so it’s worth considering how powerful your sauce will be in the dish.

No matter how you’re serving your red meat, red wine will always make the perfect accompaniment. Match your intensity and concentrate on how lean your dish is and you’ll enjoy the perfect pairing!

Alternative Ways to Pair Champagne and Food

We all know the classic pairings for Champagne. From caviar to oysters, these traditional options are tried and tested delights. But why not try something new or perhaps a little unusual? There are a wide range of foods that pair perfectly with Champagne and step outside the ordinary. This week, Ideal Wine Company brings you some alternative ways to pair Champagne with food.

Ideal Wine Company Champagne and food pairings
We all know the classic pairings for Champagne, but here are some alternative ways to pair Champagne with food.

Macaroni Cheese – soft and creamy match made in heaven

When thinking of food to serve with Champagne, macaroni cheese may not be the obvious first choice. But when the balance of flavours is right, these two work together incredibly well. There are a few important variables to perfect with your pasta before this can work. Make sure that your cheese is not too sharp, so consider opting for a softer creamy cheese with flavour. A good smoked gouda is perfect. When it comes to the Champagne, your wine needs to be acidic enough to cut through the cheese. Balance is key to pairing Champagne and macaroni cheese, but a great rule of thumb is to keep the cheese soft and let the wine be slightly bolder. The perfect comforting pairing!

Spring rolls with spicy sweet chilli sauce – opt for sweetness

This popular dish is often a snack or starter and can make a surprisingly good pair for Champagne. The goal of this balance is to reduce the fat of the spring rolls and increase the lightness of the vegetables. To do this, look for a Champagne with low acidity and opt for a big bubble finesse. A good rule to remember for pairing spring rolls and Champagne is to meet spiciness with sweetness. The more heat you add, the sweeter your Champagne should be. This provides a delicious balance that is unexpected but delicious.

Fried mushrooms – look for fruity and earthy notes

Although it may sound unusual, Champagne and fried foods are the perfect pairing. The greasy richness of these foods is elevated by the sweet bubbles of Champagne. A great example of this is fried mushrooms. Try opting for a Blanc de Noirs, a white sparkling wine made with dark grapes such as Pinot Noir. The earthiness found in mushrooms is complemented by the rich fruity and earthy notes that can be found in options such as a Blanc de Noir. A slight sweetness will go a long way in lightening this dish.

Fish tacos – high acidity for zingy food

Fish tacos present a wide range of flavours. From zingy lightness provided by the limes to the heat of the chilli to the subtly of the fish, there is a careful balancing act of flavours in place. A super dry and crisp Champagne will fit perfectly into this. These wines have little or no added sugar, meaning they’ll keep up with the zesty flavour of the dish. If the fish has lime or salsa added to it, it’s key that you find a Champagne with even higher acids. This means the wine will taste bright. As well as this, look for a good sharpness and minerality prevents the wine from tasting too flat. With a good balance, Champagne and fish tacos create a light and lively pairing.

Don’t be afraid to ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to your Champagne pairings. While the classics work well, there are plenty of alternative pairings that can widen your use of Champagne. There’s no longer any need to save the Champagne for special occasions!