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A Wine Pairing for (Just About) Every Occasion

Kathryn Coker // Photo Credit: Emily Hart Roth

Photo: Kathryn Coker

Forget about pairing food and wine for a moment, and think back to the last time you had a glass. Where were you? Who were you with? How did you feel? Ever notice it’s often the occasion or the company we are in that determines how we enjoy a glass of wine? So instead of subscribing to the rules of pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with steak and roast chicken with Chardonnay, why not pair wines according to an occasion? I chatted with Kathryn Coker, owner of Esters Wine Shop and Bar and wine director of the Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurants in Santa Monica, California, to learn about wine pairings for every occasion. Here are seven wines to pair with seven occasions...

Esters Wine Shop & Bar // Photo Credit: Emily Hart Roth

Photo: Esters Wine Shop and Bar

For when you just got hired or promoted…

“I mean, that’s pretty obvious to me, it’s Champagne,” says Kathryn. “And if I’m going to drink it, I’m going to have it with someone I know who is going to appreciate it, which is part of [the experience]. It's the ultimate celebratory drink.” Champagne has the reputation for being expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to thrown down $100 for a bottle. Kathryn suggests R.H. Coutier Brut which retails for under $50.

For when you quit your 9-5 to go freelance…

“I’d want a wine that I could sit with and get to know over the course of three hours and just really relax,” Kathryn notes. “I’d probably get a really great Barolo and cook an awesome dinner - maybe brisket - and celebrate being at home, and not at the job. You’d want something to savor, and for me, that’s Barolo.”

For when you’re having a girl’s night in...

“Rosé,” says Kathryn. “You know everyone is going to like it and it doesn’t require much thought. If we’re having cheese, I’d go with a rosé that has body and texture, and more minerality and earthy characteristics over fruit, which makes it a great food wine. I’d choose the Alfredo Maestro Amanda Rosado or a bottle of rosato."

For when you’re pre-gaming…

If you’re trying to make it past midnight, skip the tequila shots and opt for a light-bodied wine. “It’s nice to have variety for everyone, but I like Muscadet,” says Kathryn. "It’s a light white, that’s not serious, but delicious, and will be fine to have if you go out later and have a margarita. If I had Aperol, I’d make an Aperol spritz, or vermouth with soda water on the rocks - it’s lower in alcohol, but still fun.”

For when you have a date coming over (ahem)...

“You have to have a good wine - it can’t be any old wine, it has to be good,” says Kathryn.

What if Ralph’s (a grocery store chain in California) is the only place that’s open?

“You can’t go to Ralph’s. You have to have some wine at home. Do some shopping during the week or use Postmates from Esters. I’d open a Burgundy, because that’s something you’re going to savor and open for a while, while you sit and talk. You should probably have cheese too, something to eat," adds Kathryn.

For when you’re invited to a house party…

Buy a wine that you’re excited to bring, but won't get too precious about. “Bring something that you’re going to be cool with having a glass of, but don’t care if it gets taken away or doesn’t get opened that night,” explains Kathryn. “I’d bring a nice Loire Valley sparkling rosé, something fresh and cheerful that everyone will like.”

For when you’re having a Netflix night by yourself…

You’re tired, and you wouldn't mind not seeing another human for at least eight hours, so you make a date with Netflix and pick up a bottle of... Chardonnay. “I’d have a big bowl of popcorn with parmesan on it and Chardonnay. It just seems indulgent,” says Kathryn.

For when you get fired…

“That’s probably tequila. I don’t want to color that with any wine,” says Kathryn. Well said.

Thank you Kathryn!

Photo Credit: Emily Hart Roth