Marianna Caldwell of Santa Monica restaurant Cassia suggests vintages to freshen up same-old, same-old meals.
The classic pairing for any chicken dish is chardonnay, particularly from Burgundy. Recently, I've been drinking a lot more from Jura (the region just to the east of Burgundy known for "vin jaune") and would recommend either a chardonnay from Jura or a savagnin that brings some wonderful ripe yellow apple, baking spices and toasted nut flavors that pair well with roasted chicken. We recently added a roasted chicken to Cassia's takeout menu, and I opened a bottle of Jean Bourdy's savagnin from our cellar wine list to have with it. A match made in heaven! $46, cassiala.com (Jean Bourdy wines are also available in Los Feliz at Tabula Rasa, tabularasabar.com)
A hearty bean stew is the perfect comfort food right now. I like to pair wines that will be equally comforting, such as fuller-bodied reds from Languedoc in the South of France. I'm really loving Les Equilibristes' earthy Hirsute Perigord, a blend of cabernet franc and merlot with notes of bright plums and black cherry. $28, cassiala.com or nomadicdistribution.com
Pasta is another great comfort food for these stressful times. Depending on the sauce, you can either go white or red with pasta. I like to meet halfway with a lighter-bodied, chillable red. Recently, I’ve been drinking a lot of Spanish reds, particularly from the Galicia region in the northwest. One of my favorite producers, Cume do Avia makes a 100 percent brancellao (a variety native to Galicia) that has bright red fruit, dried herbs and a great minerality. It is reminiscent of a cru Beaujolais and would be great with any pasta dish. $42, cassiala.com or thesourceimports.com
Cabernet sauvignon is usually the go-to pairing for any steak meal. However, I like to switch it up and go the opposite direction. Wines with higher acidity, like riesling, make a great pairing for steak. Rieslings gets a bad rap for being too sweet, although most are actually completely dry. I have dedicated an entire section to riesling on our wine list because it is such a versatile variety. Look for a riesling from Alsace, in the northeast of France, or a German riesling labeled "trocken." These will be 100 percent dry with a lot of great minerality. Bonus: If your steak dish has a spicy barbeque sauce, riesling will bring out a lot of the flavors and pair well with the spice. For a dry Riesling, I recommend Domaine Weinbach Cuvée Colette, a classic producer from Alsace, loaded with notes of crisp green apple and minerality. $56, cassiala.com or winehouse.com
A version of this story first appeared in the May 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.