Picking the perfect pair

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Lorraine Hems, a lecturer in the School of International Hospitality and Service Innovation, has been teaching in the beverage industry for more than 30 years. She is a Certified Sommelier, Certified Wine Educator, Specialist in Spirits, Certified Wine Judge and instructor of Wine and Spirit Education Trust certification courses.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Semi-Dry Riesling

There has been an increase in sales globally for Riesling, which can be made in varying styles from dry to medium-sweet and all the way up to luscious ice wines. One of the advantages of living in the Finger Lakes is easy access to these versatile white wines. This lighter-bodied Riesling has some sweetness and goes especially well with spicy foods. RIT has a wine and food-pairing course in the hospitality department that matches this wine with spicy shrimp sushi. The crisp acidity brightens the seafood flavor, and the sweetness tames the wasabi. If you can’t locate this particular medal-winner, search for an Austrian wine for a drier style and lower-alcohol German Riesling if you like it sweeter. Cost: $15.

Torres Sangre de Toro

RIT offers a Mediterranean diet course at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, N.Y., to Wegmans employees. I serve wines from a few of these countries on food and wine-pairing days. The results can be very eye-opening. A wine that seems earthy and closed can explode with fruit flavors and spices when combined with a simple hummus spread, olives or cheese. One such wine from the Spanish region of Catalunya is Torres Sangre de Toro. Made out of garnacha and carinena grapes, it is a velvety red wine full of dark berries and anise that pairs with grilled meats, stews and paella. Bringing it to the Thanksgiving table would work well on this side of the world, too. Cost: $10.

Banfi Rosa Regale

This beautiful bottle holds an unusual, sweeter red sparkling wine. It is made from a grape called brachetto, grown in the Piedmont region of Italy. This is one of the few wines that I feel pairs well with a variety of chocolate and berry desserts. Chocolate for dessert may be popular, but it can be very difficult to find a good match depending on the cocoa content. Our department has a relationship with Dove Chocolate to use their different products to create new sensations. Innovation fills the hallway with wonderful aromas. This pairing works because the scrubbing bubbles and sweetness complement all types of chocolate. Cost: $20.