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A Guide to pairing wines with food

Dining out is quite the experience especially when you have many options to choose from. The ambiance, the flavors and presentation of the food, and of course pairing wines will enhance your overall experience. Well-established seafood and steakhouses in Chicago rely on a pretty extensive wine list to accompany their dining menus. It is important to really zone in on what wine will pair well with your entrée of your choice. Servers have a great wealth of knowledge in regards to this. Here are a few pointers to get you started…..

Red Wines:

Cabernet Sauvignon

-full bodied, dark-fruited wine, gets better with age

-black currant, cedar, blackberries with strong tannins

Pairs well with….

Hearty and fatty proteins, slowly braised meat or vegetables.

Did you know…

Some vintages can be enjoyed the day of as others may need time to age and mellow out.

Catch 35, Seafood and Premium Steaks, pairing wines suggestion:

Cabernet-The Insider, Paso Robles, CA, 2014 and Dry Aged Bone-in New York Strip with Maitre d’Hotel butter, roasted red potatoes, creamed spinach, roasted garlic


-popular choice amongst Americans

-softer and rounded out a bit more than a cabernet

-plums, blackberries, cedar, tobacco, and chocolate

Pairs well with….

Meaty fish like halibut, tuna, and swordfish

Tenderloin, mushrooms, and assorted grilled meats, vegetables, and seafood

Did you know…

Try a merlot from Washington state it exhibits elements of a cabernet yet subtle features of a merlot.

Catch 35, Seafood and Premium Steaks, pairing wines suggestion:

Merlot- Januik, Columbia Valley, WA, 2011 and Alaskan Halibut Filet-Sautéed, sweet pea risotto, Nueskes bacon and lemon vinaigrette

Pinot Noir

-light bodied, with silky texture

-red berries, cloves, cinnamon, smoky

Pairs well with….

Lamb, duck, pork, and seafood with Asian flavors

Cheese, lentils, and rich custardy desserts

Did you know…

Pinot Noirs vary based on the regions they are from. French Pinot Noirs tend to be earthy while Californian and Oregon Pinots are fruit centered.

Catch 35, Seafood and Premium Steaks, pairing wines suggestion:

Pinot Noir-La Crema, Willamette Valley, OR, 2014 and Szechwan Scallops, scallions, peppers, shiitake mushrooms, chive potsticker 


-medium bodied, with an earthy tone

-red berries, oak, smoky, herbs and bacon flavors

Pairs well with….

Grilled meats, peppered vegetables or sides, stews, or barbecue

Did you know…

Cooler climate syrah tend to be dark and earthy while warmer climates bring out the fruity flavors.

Catch 35, Seafood and Premium Steaks, pairing wines suggestion:

Syrah-Spring Valley Vineyards, Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, WA 2011 and Mixed Grill, Grilled half lobster tail, shrimp skewer, grilled salmon, yuzu beurre blanc


-very popular choice in America

-Intense berry flavor with hints of chocolate and black pepper

Pairs well with….

Burgers, pizza, barbecue, and Mexican and Asian flavored dishes.

Did you know…

In warmer climates, the zinfandel grape produces higher alcohol levels and more of an intense fruit flavor.

Catch 35, Seafood and Premium Steaks, pairing wines suggestion:

Frog’s Leap, Zinfandel, Napa Valley, CA 2014 and Pad Thai, Vegetable or chicken – rice noodle, chili, egg, tofu, peanuts, lime

White Wines:


-Rich, complex with a creamy texture

-apple, pear, lemon, butterscotch, and vanilla flavors

Pairs well with….

Shellfish and seafood, pastas, and butter sauces

Did you know…

Wine makers in California have slowly been changing over from Oak barrels to stainless steel tanks to develop a crisper overall flavor.

Catch 35, Seafood and Premium Steaks, pairing wines suggestion:

Chardonnay-Textbook, Napa Valley, CA 2012 and Alaskan King Crab Legs with Drawn butter

Sauvignon Blanc

-Tart and crisp

-Tropical fruits and grapefruit, with hints of herbs

Pairs well with….

Herbaceous dishes, green vegetables, salads

Did you know…

Sauvignon Blanc is widely cultivated in France, Chile, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, and California.

Catch 35, Seafood and Premium Steaks, pairing wines suggestion:

Sauvignon- Capture, Lake & Sonoma County, CA, 2014 and Yellowfin Tuna Poke Bowl with edamame, scallions, avocado, radish, cucumber, seaweed, soy, chili aioli

Sparkling Wine

-bubbly lemon, cherry, pear, strawberry flavors

-pleasant acidity and minerality

Pairs well with….

Pretty much everything from freshly grilled seafood to deep fried foods

Did you know…

Traditionally, sparkling wine uses the champagne method of producing bubbles in individual bottles.

Catch 35, Seafood and Premium Steaks, pairing wines suggestion:

Sparkling-Charles Lafitte “Brut Prestige”, France, NV and Atlantic Salmon,Grilled, with cucumbers, shallots, & lemon dill sauce


-Crispy and aromatic

-peach, lime, and apricot flavors

Pairs well with….

Grilled seafood, fresh salads, and Asian dishes

Did you know…

There is dry and sweet varieties available to choose from.

Catch 35, Seafood and Premium Steaks, pairing wines suggestion:

Riesling-J. Baumer, Rhein Riesling, Rhein, Germany, 2014 and Salt Roasted Beets salad with Goat cheese mousse, crushed pistachios, balsamic vinaigrette

Catch 35 located in downtown Naperville and Chicago’s theater district, is the perfect venue to experiment your wine pairing knowledge. Catch 35’s menu features seasonal seafood and premium cuts of steak. The preparations change seasonally with a celebration of French and Asian flavors. Our extensive wine list is updated seasonally as well with a wide variety of vintages from the California, Washington, Oregon, German, and French wine regions.  Cheers to you, we look forward to your next dining experience at Catch 35!