It's easy to overthink the daily pour, that welcome glass of wine or two with dinner. That's because we mistakenly take our cue from the restaurant world, where we have been told every dish requires a single, dead-on wine match.
This may hold in high-end eateries, but it’s mostly inappropriate at home, where the menu likely is neither ever-changing nor extensive. There's a better approach, one that will have you drinking delicious wine, usually for less money.
Rather than buying individual bottles on an ad hoc basis, settle on a single red and single white that are seasonally-appropriate and adapted to the dishes you prepare routinely. You probably already have a good idea which wines these are. Buying a mixed case (six red, six white) will save you 10 percent at most wine shops. These become your “house pours.”
You’ll be surprised by how satisfying it is to put affordable, pleasing wine on the table night to night without going to any more trouble than deciding between white and red. It's also far easier than you'd expect.
Balanced wines of moderate scale and flavor profiles are more versatile than you have been led to believe, capable of accompanying a range of dishes, even those involving ethnically distinctive ingredients and techniques.
The trick is to choose wines that are shapely and balanced, offer moderate body, reasonable alcohol (no more than 13.5 percent ABV) and enough acidity to offer a pleasing counterpoint to whatever is on the plate.
Above all, find something you’re genuinely smitten with. Your house pours should be wines you love.
Shun wines with outsized features that have initial charm but quickly become tiresome (no to the New Zealand sauvignon blanc; yes to brisk, unoaked French chardonnay). Run from national brands; pursue independent producers and quality-oriented co-ops. Of course, they should be priced to allow you to enjoy several glasses a night without straining the budget.
White wines we turn to again and again for daily drinking include picpoul de pinet from Caves de Pomerol (around $12); the lovely Beaujolais blanc from Jean-Paul Brun (around $16); Stefano Antonucci's delightful Santa Barbara verdicchio from Italy’s Adriatic Coast (around $14); and the consistently excellent basic Anjou blanc from Domaine Richou (around $18). For a sparkling white, consider the undervalued over-performing Blanquette de Limoux from Domaine Laurens (around $16).
Among reds we score most often with are the super value Cotes-du-Rhone from Domaine Montirius (around $14); the sangiovese-based blend from Chianti Classico's Montebernardi ("Fuoristrada," in the 1-liter Tetra Pak, around $14); the juicy Beaujolais-Villages from Lucien Lardy (around $13); and the dark, earthy "Altaroses" Catalan garnacha from Joan d'Anguera (around $18).
Of course, this list doesn’t begin to exhaust the possibilities. Once you’ve landed on a red and a white that fill the bill, stick with them until a new season shifts the direction of your cooking. Only then look for a change. And if at some point you feel the need for variation and a fancier sip—and you will—well, that’s what weekends are for.