There are no hard and fast rules on deciding which wine complements a certain food, although time, traditions and common sense have given us certain wine and food associations. Any wine may be served with any food and be correct. The general rule, however, is the lighter the food, the lighter the wine; the heartier the food, the richer (darker) the wine.

Typically, dry, light wines are served at the beginning of a meal. As the meal progresses, richer wines are served with the entrée. Delicate wines go well with delicate dishes, and full-bodied wines go well with robust foods. Sweeter wines pair well with desserts and certain spicy dishes.

To help your customers select a wine, ask simple questions or make suggestions, such as:

Do you prefer red or white wine?

The owner always enjoys a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon with the Risotto you have ordered.

Have you ever tried a glass of Pinot Noir with salmon? It’s an excellent choice.

A crisp Fumé Blanc is an excellent accompaniment to the goat cheese salad.

Experiment with the phrases and questions that work for you. The more you talk about wine, the more comfortable you’ll become in helping your guests select a wine that will add enjoyment to their meal.