Foolproof Tips for Pairing Food With Summer Wines

Scribe Winery’s chef shares her secrets.
Alex Redgrave Avatar

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As part of this month’s Domino x American Express Platinum pop-up in Bridgehampton, New York, NorCal-cool Scribe Winery brought West Coast terroir to the Hamptons. In a rustic barn that could have been transported straight from Sonoma Valley, Scribe’s Kelly Mariani led a group on easy pairing ideas for a crisp pinot noir rosé and a complex-yet-clean skin fermented chardonnay.

“We use very little or no oak, so there aren’t any heavy flavors,” she explains. “Our wines are delicate, nuanced, and true to the grape.” Following suit, the snacks included Scribe staples like salty Marcona almonds (they grow on the farm, along with walnuts), as well as small bites sourced from the surrounding fertile land.

Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

A Chez Panisse veteran, Mariani helped develop the food program at Scribe’s newly opened hacienda tasting room, where guests enjoy wine and small plates with ingredients pulled straight from the garden. The dreamy century-old space (complete with renovated kitchen) has already become a hub for visiting chefs.

“Keeping a collaborative spirit is the Scribe vibe. Everything grows together and the farm is right next to the vineyard,” says Mariani of the way pairings often naturally crop up. Here, she shares some easy tips for your next summer party.

Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Think beyond cheese

Round out your board of rich Humboldt Fog, sharp cheddar, and goat’s cheese with a plate of fresh greens. “We always serve a lettuce salad; it’s a cornerstone of our menu,” says Mariani. The secret is the dressing, which features verjus—unfermented grape juice harvested a little earlier than the wine. Tart, but softer and fruitier than vinegar, verjus is also used at Scribe on oysters as a mignonette (and mixed with mezcal to make the “Scriberita.”)

Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Let the wine shine

Clean ingredients—like tomato and ricotta toasts, or prosciutto, melon, and mint—complement more subtle flavors, while anything too spicy or acidic might overpower your palate and drown out a wine.

All herbs are not created equal

At Scribe, Mariani throws mint, parsley, dill, and basil onto dishes for an extra hit of green. “Soft, sweet herbs are best—not anything to woody, like rosemary or thyme,” she suggests. Mariani also allows cilantro to go to seed and flower, bringing “a bright herbal moment” into the mix of garden-centric offerings.

Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Play with contrast

Balancing a rosé, Mariani chose a skin-fermented orange wine as a second option. “Because it has more tannins, you can create unique and fun combinations,” she says. “The structure stands up against stronger food flavors but it’s still light.” While a fresh goat cheese or triple crème brie goes well with our favorite summer water, try a nuttier cheese with the small-batch chardonnay.

Ultimately, it’s all about finding your own happy medium, according to Mariani. “People want guidelines. But trust your own instincts. If you like it, it works!”

Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE
Alex Redgrave Avatar

Alex Redgrave


Alex Redgrave is an award-winning editor and writer. Previously. she was Executive Editor at Domino and Saveur, where she guided editorial strategy. She currently lives in Nova Scotia.