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Wining and dining

If there is one wine rule I abide by, it's don't assume. Don't judge until you taste. Don't be swayed because a friend who is more versed in wine likes a particular one, and you think simply because they think it's good, you should, too. Don't apologize for your choices, either. Oaked or unoaked Chardonnay? There's no "right" answer, only what's right for you.

Tuesday night I attended the International Food & Wine Tasting at Hard Rock. The event benefited Congregation Beth Israel and featured wines from around the world. Some I already consider good friends (Penfold's Koonuga Hill Shiraz Cabernet), some I had heard of but had never met (Rodney Strong Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc), and some were complete strangers (Galil Merlot).

There was one I was especially tickled to finally try, Sokol Blosser Evolution. It's a white blend that I can best describe as a drier Riesling/Gewruztraminer, a blooming of floral and fruits that made me smile. FYI, Evolution's Web site says "Muller-Thurgau, White Riesling, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner" are the nine buddies that live in this bottle. The wine paired nicely with some nearby spicy beef kabobs.

That leads me to another wine matter that I try not to take too seriously. People often stress over what wine to pair with what food. True oenophiles might take issue with me, but here's what I follow. A huge personality like a steak or hearty pasta needs an acidic white or full-bodied red. Spicy or smoked food calls for something a little sweet for balance. And foods with higher acidity need higher-acid wines. There are whites and reds good for any category.

Red or white? For me, it's however I'm feeling. I'm sort of a seasonal wine gal. In the warmer months, I tend to drink white or rose. Come cooler temperatures, I can be seen drinking red. (There's also the matter of attending a party at somebody's house. If the area is crowded and/or they have carpet, I go with white, no matter the season.)

Want to know more about wine? The best way to learn is to get out there and try some. Plan a wine tasting with friends; each one brings a bottle. Or attend a wine tasting, such as the event I went to this week. And get to know the owner or employees at your favorite shop; they'll be glad to direct you to wines that fit your wishes and your wallet. Enjoy!