Oregon Wines 101: Pairing Your Oregon Wines and Beers

At Vino Ventures, we want every guest to thoroughly appreciate all the Oregon wine they encounter on our tours. Many of our guests have participated in wine tours and affiliated Portland brewery tours before. If you haven’t, you may wonder how to get the most out of your Vino Ventures experience. How do you determine the beer or wine that’s right for you, and how do you use it in everyday life? This is a common question we’re eager to answer.


Know Which Wines You Like

The average Oregon wine country map encompasses huge portions of Portland, the Hood River, and the Willamette Valley. If you’re a new wine drinker or want to widen your palette, keep these tips in mind:

  • If you’re a new drinker (early 20s), go for lighter wines with fruity tastes such as Chablis, Zinfandel, or amaretto mixes.
  • Rely on non-alcoholic preferences. If you drink whole milk with breakfast, try California Chardonnay. If you’re an orange juice drinker, you might enjoy Viognier.
  • Be open to new flavors. Most people have a favorite wine, but that favorite can lead them to try new types that may be in the same vein – or completely different.


Know How to Pair Wines

People who love wine tastings may not reap the benefits of wine at home because they don’t know how it translates in real life. In other words, they might want a glass of wine with dinner, but come away unsatisfied because the wine pairing was inadvertently wrong. If you’re new to wine pairings or need a refresher, here’s a quick rundown of the basics:

  • For carb-heavy meals (if you’re having pasta or bringing wine to a brunch heavy on bread) you’ll want a Chardonnay or Viognier.
  • For rich fish – including crab, shrimp, and other shellfish – you’ll need a light red wine such as Pinot Noir, Grenache, or Gamay. These wines also go well with chicken, too.
  • For red meats like steak, you need a “big red” such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • For dessert, port or sherry are your best bets.


Don’t Neglect Beer

As our name implies, Vino Ventures’ tours focus on Oregon wine, but we do serve many customers who enjoy Portland brewery tours. If you prefer beer over wine, educate yourself the same way you would about different wines. For example, pair “comfort food” like soups, stews, or burgers with amber ales, which are not too strong but carry plenty of flavor. Pair a fruity dessert with a wheat-based beer, but pair chocolate cake or tiramisu with a darker, stouter brand.


Seek Out Great Wineries

Familiarize yourself with an Oregon wine country map before your tour, and read up on local wineries. At Vino Ventures, we allow you to choose which wineries you’ll visit. We recommend intimate wineries with a family feel such as the Dobbes Family Estate or the Lange Estate Winery.