Kerri Laz is a master of her craft, elevating wine pairing to an artform. Renowned for her exquisite taste, she recently shared four romantic pairings that are perfect for Valentine’s Day. However, as Kerri says, you never need a reason to enjoy food and wine. 

“Valentine’s Day is great,” Kerri says. “I love that everyone loves celebrating love, but these are pairings that I am into all the time. Seriously. There can be any occasion – or no occasion at all – that calls for these.”

Living YBG sat down with Kerri to talk about the subtle science behind wine pairing and her approach to creating a harmonious meal. 

On pairing with charcuterie boards:

“When we order charcuterie boards for tasting events, we tell the caterers to hold the pickled and marinated vegetables. Vinegar absolutely kills the flavor of wine. As soon as you taste the veggies and then drink the wine, the whole experience becomes sour and off-putting.

Olives can be interesting though! Olive tapenades are hard to pair, unless you had a really acidic white wine that can cut through that salty brininess. I love olives of all kinds, but the only one that seems to pair well are Castelvetrano olives. They’re vine ripened and aren’t pickled per se, so they still has a nice, buttery flavor.”

On pairing same-same and same-different:

“You can go one of two ways when you’re making a pairing. You can go same-same, or same-different but complementing each other. Let’s use Dungeness crab as an example. It has a buttery component to it, so you could pair it with a Chardonnay for a same-same pairing. They accentuate each other because they have similar flavors. 

But if you don’t like Chardonnay, you could decide to pair it with Sauvignon Blanc for a same-different pairing. Sauvignon Blanc has a lemony flavor, which enhances the crab in a different way. You could go down the rabbit hole when it comes to food and wine pairings, but at the end of the day, it’s flexible. If you like how a pairing tastes, who am I to tell you that it’s wrong?”

On pairing the perfect dinner:

“I like contrast and I think it’s best to serve a variety of wines. Primarily for the guests, but also for the chefs so they can play around with proteins and flavors. I like to start off with Champagne. It has so many different flavors and it’s easy to pair with a lot of things. I like to follow it with a white wine, something like a sophisticated Sauvignon Blanc or a nice Chardonnay, before progressing into big reds like Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Pairings depend on the menu and occasion, but if the dish is delicate, I like to serve aged wines. They are more refined and subtle, whereas newer varietals are fruit-driven and big on tannins for a full body taste.”

On pairing with chocolate:

“Chocolate pairings are easy; it goes very well with big reds. Cabernet Sauvignon is always a good choice as there’s already that hint of coco and espresso in the wine. A good rule of thumb is that if you taste an undertone of something in the wine, it’s going to pair well with that flavor. You want the flavors of the food to be mirrored in the essence of the wine.”

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About Kerri Laz

Kerri Laz is the founder of K. LAZ Wine Collection and the Wine Program Director at Four Seasons Private Residences at 706 Mission. She enjoys insider relationships with nearly every California winemaker worth knowing and is a leading authority on wines in the region. Her ability to secure limited allocations from cult labels has helped her build a truly unique collection of more than 500 wine labels—including some of the most coveted and hard-to-find bottles and undiscovered gems.