The Rule of Food & Wine Pairings used to be: Red with Beef, White with Chicken or Fish and White Zin with nothing at all (okay, that last part I made up, don’t hate me because I hate the cool-aid of wines and I won’t hate you for ordering Filet Mignon well done, though I will feel sorry for the cow). Some people still hold this to be gospel and it’s okay because, well, it make sense: colors match, it’s easy and, for the most part, the heavier the food the heavier the flavor of the wine.

Now, though, most people are fine to live and let dine with whatever your choice of wine. Like Merlot? Drink it! Prefer Chablis? Stock your shelf with a case and enjoy. But don’t be surprised if you fine yourself noticing what does and doesn’t enhance the flavor of your wine or your meal.

This is where pairings come in. It’s a true art form which requires an extensive knowledge of wine, the flavors that go into them, as well as a good knowledge of food. See why we ended up with the red with red guideline? Wineries are actually helping to demystify wine a bit as some will put on the label what foods their wine goes best with and there’s always the helpful Wine Guy at your local store–make friends with him (or her!)–who can steer you in the right direction. Paying attention to menus that suggest certain wines with certain dishes can also give you an idea of what goes with what.

Of course, nothing beats just experimenting at home. Try this: the next time you open a bottle of wine, plan to have a variety of basic foods around to try with it. A few basic proteins, some spreads and dips, anything with a definite flavor and try each with a little sip of wine. Better yet, make it a party: invite some friends, make up some score-sheets and maybe even cloak the bottles so that no one is prejudiced against a particular wine. You know, I’ve been meaning to have a wine party and this might be just the thing!

I’m really surprised to have four more wine-related offerings from Entrepreneur to share, but I guess some things if not recession-proof are at least recession resistant (i.e., drown your sorrows much?). Of course, these gorgeous places may not be the ideal spot to moan about money woes, better to let them envelop you and forget your troubles for a few hours.

I’d happily spend some time in any of these beautiful spots: Wine o’Clock from Brunnel Family Cellar, the Newsome-Harley Winery, Thunderbolt Winery or Tulip Hill Winery & Vineyard. Doesn’t someone want to send me to California, huh? No? Oh, well, I’ll just have to add it to my list!

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