Keep these twelve essential wines on hand and you’ll always have a good pairing choice no matter what you make for dinner.

Three glasses of wine, rose, white, and red with bottles in the background.


You don’t need to be a wine connoisseur or have a wine cellar in your home to keep the right wines on hand for pairing with just about any meal.

Types of wine to have on hand when entertaining

If you plan to have about twelve varieties available and re-stock as you use them, you’ll always be able to make an appropriate choice to pair with the evening’s menu.

The Reds

  • Pinot Noir is an easy drinking red that pairs well with all sorts of red meat and game and strong flavored fish like salmon.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon is a top choice for pairing with all types of beef.
  • Chianti is perfect for serving with Italian-style red sauce, whether it be on pasta or pizza.
  • Syrah (Shiraz) is a full-bodied red for that pairs nicely with strongly flavored meat, game and sausages.
  • Merlot is relatively light-bodied red wine that works nicely with pork and turkey.
  • Rosé wine, both dry and off-dry are versatile enough to pair with just about anything you’d care to serve with them

The Whites

  • Chardonnay is an extraordinarily versatile white with a wide range of flavor profiles, can complement almost any poultry or fish dish as well as a variety of cheeses.
  • Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris) is a wine that ranges from dry to sweet, delicious with rich cream sauced pastas and dishes served with white wine sauce.
  • Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for matching the acidity in dishes that contain ingredients like tomatoes and lemon, also nice with goat cheese.
  • Riesling is a light white wine that ranges from bone dry to sweet, it complements Asian cuisine, pork, duck and smoked fish nicely.
  • Gewürztraminer is a spicy aromatic wine that works well with spicy cuisines like Thai and Indian.
  • Champagne and Sparkling Wines are wonderful with culinary indulgences like oysters, caviar and truffles in addition to shellfish in cream sauce.