Ask an Expert: Han Wen

Han Wen (Photo by Ahna Hubnik)How can you best pair wines with holiday meals?

Whether you're serving a traditional turkey dinner or hosting a wine and cheese party, you don't have to be a sommelier to know which wines you should serve. Han Wen, assistant professor in UNT's College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism, says there are simple guidelines to help, but the idea is to have fun and enjoy entertaining your friends and family.

"Don't be intimidated," she says. "The best pairings should make both the food and wine taste better than when they are consumed separately and enhance the dining experience."

Start with the basics

  • Pair white wine such as Chardonnay with white meat, red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon with red meat. Savory foods go well with unoaked white wines, acidic or fatty foods with acidic wines, and salty foods with tannic wines.
  • Wines that have evolved along with the local cuisine are always a great match. So French food with French wine, Spanish food with Spanish wine.
  • Vegetables such as asparagus and green beans often have a high concentration of umami, which can over-balance all but the lightest unoaked white wines.
  • Sweet wines, fortified wines (for example port, sherry), and sparkling wines (for example Champagne), pair well with desserts.
  • Store in cool basements and cellars. Refrigerate white and sparkling wines for at least three hours and take out 15-30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate reds 15-30 minutes before serving.


  • Websites such as are a great resource to learn about wines. And apps such as Delectable or Vivino let you scan wine labels for instant ratings.
  • Don't break the bank. The best wines are the ones that appeal to you as the wine drinker, not necessarily the most expensive.

Learn more

  • Get more in-depth knowledge through certification programs, take a university course like UNT's Beverage Survey class, or enjoy a winery tour with friends to learn more about wines and pairings.

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