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First ask yourself, do you want your meal to be about the food, with a wine accent, or about the wine as the star attraction? If it's about the food, choose a wine that won't overwhelm it-not a California Cabernet with the Dover sole! Remember that a region's cuisine is a natural for the wines of that place.

Compare and Contrast: You can shoot for contrasts in flavors-a crisp Chardonnay, for instance, with a fatty fish like salmon. Or, go for like with like-lobster with a nutty, opulent Chassagne-Montrachet.

Dessert wines:
Should always be sweeter than the dessert. For example, try a tawny port with a banana tart.

Experiment! Try something new, and stop and take a moment to really taste, smell and savor your wine-without becoming tense and over-analytical about it. Enjoy!

Interview with Alicia TownsWine List from Grill 23Alicia Towns' homepageSommelier Archives

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