The Best Wine and Food Recipes From California Grown
Sometimes the thought of pairing wine and food recipes together can be a bit daunting. Epic wine and food pairings aren’t just for sommeliers, high-end restaurants, and extreme wine enthusiasts. They are for everyone! Join us as we explore the world of wines and learn how each varietal’s unique flavor notes pair with recipes.
This post covers some of the region’s most popular wine selections and the flavors that pair best with them. With over a dozen different dynamic pairings to choose from, there is truly something for everyone.
Chardonnay has a wide range of flavor notes to consider when pairing with different recipes. From unoaked and fruit-forward with hints of minerality, to rich and toasty with vanilla and butter. The styles and aromas of California Chardonnay are diverse as the microclimates where it’s grown throughout the state.
Tasting notes for Chardonnay:
This white wine pairs perfectly with white fish, shellfish, and free-range chicken recipes. Also, the flavors in Chardonnay become even more spectacular when you pair them with a creamy, buttery sauce.
Recipes to pair with California Chardonnay:
Fun fact: Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape in California!
Artichoke and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts
You can go all the way with this wine and food recipe pairing by making the stuffed chicken breasts or you can simply serve our Artichoke and Spinach Dip with a toasted baguette and skip the chicken altogether.
Either way, the flavors and ultra creaminess of this recipe pair perfectly with a glass of Chardonnay.
California-Style Grilled Flatbread- Fig and Basil
The buttery mouthfeel of Chardonnay will pair perfectly with the creamy mozzarella, California figs, and fresh basil that top this grilled flatbread recipe.
Charred Poblano Guacamole
Didn’t think you could pair chips and guac with wine? Think again!!!
This Charred Poblano Guacamole recipe from Hola Jalapeno has all the creamy avocado goodness you love plus charred bits of poblano pepper and jalapeños that take the flavor profile of this guac to a whole new level of delicious.
Zinfandel from California
Bold and rambunctious, Zinfandel can take your palate on an adventure! From raspberry to black pepper, cloves, and licorice – each sip is a delight. Zinfandel grapes are one of California’s oldest and most revered vines. In fact, Zinfandel is California’s signature state winegrape.
Tasting notes for Zinfandel:
This wine pairs perfectly with barbecued free-range beef, lamb, pork, chicken, or even a dish as robust as spicy sausage.
Recipes to pair with Zinfandel from California:
Zinfandel is “America’s Heritage Grape” – which makes sense, since California produces over 80% of wine in the U.S.
Melting Napa Cabbage
This plant-based recipe requires minimal ingredients and prep work, but the final dish tastes like it took hours to create!
Rich and garlicky with a sultry, robust flavor and just a hint of spice, this Melting Napa Cabbage recipe is the perfect pairing for Zinfandel’s big bold flavor.
Steak Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
This beautiful steak salad from No Crumbs Left is easy to prepare and can be enjoyed either grilled or pan-roasted then finished in the oven.
Sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and Green Goddess dressing make this hearty salad the perfect feast for pairing with a glass of Zinfandel.
Lamb Asparagus Kebabs with Pistachio Mint Pesto
The earthy flavors and vibrant hues of these lamb kabobs are the perfect pairing combination for a glass of Zinfandel.
California Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon’s concentrated flavors mellow into a rich elegance as it ages. It has a firm, focused structure, lingering dark fruit (blackberry, blueberry, black currant), and hints of mocha and earth.
Tasting notes for Cabernet Sauvignon:
This full-bodied red wine is the perfect pairing for recipes calling for grass-fed beef – grilled, roasted, or braised. It is also perfect for bold-flavored recipes like the ones below.
Recipes to pair with Cabernet Sauvignon:
It’s easy to see why Cabernet Sauvignon is the bestselling red in the US and number two in California acreage.
Sheet Pan Chicken Marbella
A full-bodied red like Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect pairing for this retro redo chicken dinner. This recipe packs BIG, BOLD flavor with minimal effort.
This Easy Sheet Pan Chicken Marbella recipe from This Mess is Ours is made with sweet prunes, green olives, and capers. That combination creates an irresistible flavor punch that we can’t get enough of.
Caponata of Eggplant
This sour meets sweet-flavored oven-roasted relish is perfect on crostini, cheeseboards, or as a side dish on its own. It is also an exquisite pairing for a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Italian Date Night In Board
This not-so-traditional take on a charcuterie board from The Delicious Life does double duty as an appetizer and dinner! Could this look any more delicious?
All the big, bold, bright flavors of this board are perfect companions for a glass or two of Cabernet Sauvignon from California.
Rosé from California
The flavors of rosé are reminiscent of fresh berries and are especially refreshing on cool autumn evenings and hot summer days.
Tasting notes for Rosé from California:
A glass of cool glass of rosé pairs with everything and anything from spicy sauces to crisp, light salads.
Recipes to pair with Rosé from California:
Rosé ranges in flavor from delicate, refined, and dry to bright and sweet with a hint of creaminess.
Strawberry Rosé Snack Cake
Our Strawberry Rosé Snack Cake recipe calls for rosé in the batter, the strawberry glaze, and the icing! That’s a trifecta of rosé flavor.
Naturally, this cake pairs great with a glass of rosé, but it is also delicious with sparkling wine.
Grilled Fish Tacos
Spicy fish tacos are the perfect pairing for a chilled glass of rosé!
Our friends at Discover California Wines say that you can use any kind of fish for these grilled tacos, or even shrimp if you prefer.
Bruschetta with Warm Goat Cheese, Roasted Asparagus, and Pistachio Pesto
When you crave a change-up from plain steamed or roasted asparagus, try them this way: on top of crunchy toast with warm, creamy goat cheese and a dollop of fragrant pesto.
This recipe from Discover California Wines is the perfect wine pairing for rosé.
Sparkling wine from California
We know a thing or two about the crisp acidity of California sparkling wine, which pairs as easily with a mid-week dinner as it does a decadent dessert.
Tasting notes for sparkling wine from California:
A glass of this effervescent wine pairs with everything from Szechuan stir fry to triple crème cheeses.
Recipes to pair with Sparkling wine from California:
Did you know sparkling wine has been produced in California since the 1870s?! It’s true!
Fresh Berry Crostini With Sweet Lemon Ricotta
Get ready for a wine and food pairing made in heaven! The effervescent bubbles of California sparkling wine pairs perfectly with juicy California berries and luscious lemon ricotta.
These treats are perfect for breakfast, brunch, or a snack.
Rosemary and Roasted Grape Wine Cocktail
Wine cocktails are a new trend in the alcoholic beverage market and we are here for it!
In our latest wine cocktail creation, we paired jammy roasted grapes, woodsy rosemary, and bright fresh lemon with the effervescent bubbles of California sparkling wine.
It’s quite honestly pure magic for the tastebuds.
Boozy Cranberry Cheesecake Mini Tarts
These sweet, tiny cranberry tarts from A Girl Defloured are packed with big flavor and are the perfect accompaniment to California sparkling wine.
You’ll love the easy tart shell, quickly made with crushed gingersnap cookies and butter and baked in a muffin tin. The filling is a no-bake creamy cheesecake base decadently flavored with a generous splash of Grand Marnier – these festive treats will be the star of the show.
Dessert wine or Late Harvest wine from California
Dessert wines, also known as late harvest wines are rich and luscious. They provide a sweet end to any meal while retaining just enough acidity to remain refreshing.
Tasting notes for Dessert wine or Late Harvest wine from California:
A good rule of thumb is to pair sweet dessert wines with sweet desserts and light dessert wines with light desserts.
Recipes to pair with Dessert wine or Late Harvest wine from California:
These wines are made from a number of varietals, including Muscat, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel.
Toasted Almond, Orange and Olive Oil Cake
This cake from Discover California Wines is easy to make, impressive to taste, and captures three of California’s favorite flavors: navel oranges, olive oil, and almonds.
A slice of this cake pairs best with California Muscat, California Late Harvest, or Dessert wine
Fresh Fig Compote and an Easy Crème Brûlée Recipe
Rich, decadent, Lemon and White Chocolate Crème Brûlée sits atop a fresh fig compote that envokes childlike nostalgia with every spoon full.
This dessert is reminiscent of the fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt cups you loved as a kid, but with a mature dessert spin for your sophisticated palate that pairs wonderfully with Dessert wine.
Soft-Centered Chocolate Babycakes with Red Wine Raspberry Sauce
These gorgeous Babycakes from Discover California Wines are served warm with red wine raspberry sauce and are perfect with a glass of Sparkling wine or Late Harvest wine from California.
These cakes are almost molten inside, with crunchy edges, and totally irresistible! Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
We have navigated the world of pairings, now let’s take your wine pairing skills to the next level and brush up your basic wine knowledge too!
Wine and Cheese Pairings Guide and How-to
Wine and cheese pairings are not as formulaic as grouping all cheeses into a few broad categories then pairing one variety of wine to each category.
There are many variables to take into consideration on both sides of the equation and Sarah of The Delicious Life broke them all down in detail for us!
How To Host A California Style Cheese And Wine Party
Salt & Wind shared all of their best cheese serving pointers, styling tips, and wine pairings so you can bring the best flavors of California to your home.
Here’s What Sustainable Wine Means And Why Should You Care
Ever wonder, “What is the difference between organic, biodynamic, and sustainable wine?”
We could fill a book with the nuanced regulations surrounding these terms worldwide. Let’s start with what they mean here in California with this in-depth article from Aida of Salt & Wind.
Is wine gluten-free?
If there is anyone uniquely positioned to be the authority on gluten-free wine, it’s our friend KC, the G-Free Foodie. KC is a fifth-generation wine grape grower that ran a vintner’s association and is basically our go-to aficionado when it comes to gluten-free wine pairings.
You’ve navigated the pairings, learned about sustainability, and may have even discovered a new favorite wine in the process.
Now try exploring the vineyard, the winery, and the cellar!
Trust us, making your way around the California wine world is much easier when you know the basics and Discover California Wines has you covered.
***Updated 2/22/2022 with more varietals and information about California wines. Also increased wine and food recipes pairings***