Taking the time to pair food with wine for a special-occasion not only takes any meal over the top, but also shows that you've put some extra thought and care into what you're serving.
But matching the right bottles to the right recipes can feel like a daunting task. With thousands of grape varieties to choose from, and millions of recipes available online, where does one even begin when starting to build a menu?
The good news: right here.
To take the guesswork and stress out of planning any festive sit-down dinners this summer, here are six (restaurant-approved!) food and wine pairings that make the season's sweltering-hot weather feel just a little more manageable.
Pick out two or three of your favorite pairings for a meal that feels complete — or if you're hosting a more laid-back evening, just pick the dish that sounds most delicious and snag a bottle or two of the wine that goes with it.
6 food and wine pairings for summer
1. Burrata with prosciutto and rosé
A bottle of crisp, dry rosé is a must for any warm-weather get-together, and we especially like a bottle with bright notes of citrus, melon, and strawberry. Those vibrant flavors, plus the wine's refreshing acidity make it a perfect complement to creamy burrata with prosciutto and grilled bread; a few slices of ripe melon would also fit right in here. If cheese isn't your thing (it was lovely knowing you), a simple beef carpaccio would also work well.
2. Miso glazed Chilean sea bass and chardonnay
Seafood and chardonnay are a no-fail pairing, so why not couple this bottle's silky texture and oaky aromas with a miso glazed sea bass. The wine's acidity cuts the butteriness of this flaky white fish, while notes of nectarine and yellow plum work nicely with the sweet glaze. For something a little less composed, you could also pair Chardonnay with a simple shrimp cocktail that can be made a day or two in advance.
3. Barbecue Scottish salmon fillet and merlot
A juicy New York strip steak is a no-brainer for a big, bold merlot from Napa Valley. But less expected is this barbecued salmon. The wine's rich (but not overwhelming) red-fruit flavors, spice, and bright acidity work well with salmon's fattiness and the seasoning's intense aromas.
4. Chopped salad and sauvignon blanc
We'll never say no to a crunchy, vegetable-packed chopped salad during the heat of summer, especially if it's paired with a crisp sauvignon blanc. Notes of lemon and lime zest in the wine play off any tart vinaigrette, while aromas of nectarine and honeydew keep things from becoming too sour. If you're feeling a bit more ambitious in the kitchen, fry up a batch of calamari and drizzle it in a sweet chile sauce.
5. Bone-in rib-eye and cabernet sauvignon
A bone-in rib-eye is sure to steal the show on any dinner table (I mean, just look at it), so it's going to need a wine that can stand up to its star power. We like a classic cabernet sauvignon from the Napa Valley, with its trademark complexity, rich body, and layers of blackberry and huckleberry. A bone-in filet mignon would work here too, but you really can't go wrong with almost any cut of steak.
6. Filet mignon and pinot noir
Filet mignon is one of the most popular cuts of steak, and a staple dish for red wine — we like pinot noir best. The wine's soft, almost velvety texture stands up nicely to the juicy, tender meat, while hints of white pepper and baking spices in the body are a good counterpoint for filet's simple seasoning.
This story was originally published on Food52.com: These 6 food and wine pairings will be your go-tos all summer long.