While certain wines carry reputations for being particularly “food friendly,” there are many instances where wine is served and enjoyed without the accompaniment of a snack or meal.
Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, is well known as a “steakhouse wine” that pairs well with just about any type of red meat. Served alone, however, many wine enthusiasts find Cabernet Sauvignon to be too tannic as it dries out the palate with intensity.
While there are no hard rules when it comes to the world of wine, there are certain styles of wine that work best when served without food, and sticking to these styles is the best way to ensure a great time for everyone.
In this article, we will take a look at the best wine to drink without food, for when you just want to unwind with a glass of wine.
Top Choices For Wine to Drink Without Food Pairings
Best Rosé Without Food
Pink Rosés are not the first thing many enthusiasts think of when shopping for a bottle of wine, and many sommeliers believe that high-quality bottles of Rosé are some of the best-kept secrets in the world of wine. These light and refreshing pink wines are great by themselves without food.
Rosé wines are naturally low in tannin, as there is only limited skin contact allowed during the wine-making process. This means that drinking Rosé will not dry out the palette, making it easier to keep enjoying sip after sip!
There are a variety of different styles of Rosé, and sweetness levels can range all the way from bone dry to lusciously sweet. There are many different grapes that can be used to make these pink wines, including Grenache, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, and Syrah.
Sweet Rosés are great for drinking after a meal and are often used as dessert wines. They are usually made using Merlot, Zinfandel, and Moscato grapes which give them a full body and rich sweetness. Sweet Rosés are usually low in acidity, making them great for new wine drinkers.
On the opposite end of the sweetness spectrum, the driest representations of Rosé are crisp and acidic, making them a fantastic option for outdoor parties and summertime enjoyment. Many wine enthusiasts look at dry Rosé as the ultimate warm weather wine without food.
The tasting notes present in Rosés are usually described as fruity, with red fruit like strawberries, cherries, and cranberry often described on the front of the palate. Citrus and melon are also commonly present, making these wines plenty complex by themselves.
Miraval Cotes de Provence Rosé enjoyed plenty of free publicity when it was revealed that Hollywood movie stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had purchased the estate. It is a solid bottle of Rosé that is typical of the famous Provence region and delivers on balance and complexity.
Whispering Angel Rosé is one of the top-selling pink wines in the world, and it is also produced in the iconic Provence region. This dry Rosé has developed a reputation for supreme drinkability and superior value compared to many more expensive bottles from the same region.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Rosé is one of the most popular bottles of new world Rosé on the market today, and it showcases the best parts of modern Washington state winemaking. The producer also specifically states that it can be enjoyed with or without food!
Best White Wine Without Food
White wine is one of the first options many hosts think of when pouring a round of drinks before or after a meal, and with good reason. Dry white wines are both crisp and complex, and the lack of tannins makes them very easy to enjoy on their own for multiple glasses.
Sweet white wines have been served after meals for centuries, and many enthusiasts are well aware that a sweet bottle of white Moscato is perfectly fine without a snack to accompany it. Certain styles of white wine like oaked Chardonnay are best saved for when snacks are around.
One of the best white wines to drink without food is New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region. Marlborough is located on the north end of New Zealand’s South Island, and it is home to a unique enzyme in the soil that gives the wine grapes special properties.
This special enzyme in the soils gives Sauvignon Blanc wines from the Marlborough region heavy fruit aromas that are often compared to grapefruit and white peach. Due to the fact that the senses of smell and taste are highly connected, these crisp wines take on fruity flavors.
For wine enthusiasts who enjoy white wine with less fruity tastes and more minerality, Albariño from the Rias Baixas region of Spain is one of the best options on the market. Many sommeliers refer to these wines as “mineral water” due to the fact that they are so high in rich minerals.
Pinot Grigio is another great option to be enjoyed by itself due to the fact that it is so high in acidity. Acidic wines cause the mouth to salivate, which is a very desirable sensation for some wine enthusiasts. These wines hit the palate with enough brightness to shine without food.
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most popular wines from the country of New Zealand, and it is widely distributed all over the world. This wine is typical of the Marlborough region and carries the trademark aromas of grapefruit and white peach on the nose.
Fento Wines ‘Bico da Ran’ Albariño is one of the best representations of the mineral-driven white wines from Rias Baixas region on the market, and is a favorite among sommeliers and restaurant staff. It offers plenty of pop on the palate and is a great standalone wine without food.
Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Alto Adige is a mass-produced bottle of Pinot Grigio that is available at grocery stores and major wine retailers all over the world. It is high in punchy acidity, which is great for palates that can handle acidic citrus-based dishes.
Best Red Wine Without Food
Many wine enthusiasts are unaware that there are certain styles of red wine that are suitable to be enjoyed without food. The majority of these red wines are either light or sweet, and the common trait that they all share is a low amount of tannin.
Tannins work to dry out the palate when a wine is enjoyed without food, and many drinkers experience a phenomenon called “palate fatigue” after being hit with too much large flavor and tannins. The best wines to drink without food are both low in tannin and well balanced.
One of the best red wines that are suitable for drinking without food is made in the Beaujolais region of France. These gamay-based wines are produced just minutes from the region of Burgundy, where some of the most expensive wines in the world are grown.
The gamay-based wines of Beaujolais are low in tannin and medium in body and contain just enough acidity to achieve balance. They are often produced using rustic methods, including a process called carbonic maceration which gives them their signature “bubblegum” aftertaste.
Pinot Noir is one of the most popular grape varietals in the entire world and is used to produce some of the most high-quality bottles of light red wine on earth. Pinot Noir wines are generally low in tannin and carry tart red fruit flavors like cherry and cranberry.
This combination of low tannin, light body, and bright red fruit flavors makes Pinot Noir one of the best red wine candidates for enjoyment without food or snacks. It has enough complexity and flavor to keep the drinker interested without overwhelming or drying out the palate.
Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages is one of the most widely distributed bottles of Beaujolais in the entire world and represents a great value at under $15 per bottle. It offers great value at the “village” level of this French region and makes for a great bottle to be enjoyed without food.
The next step up from the village level in Beaujolais is the “Cru” level. There are 10 different Crus of Beaujolais, and many consider Morgon to be the best of them. Domaine Des Versauds Morgon is considered by many to be one of the best bottles of Gamay in the entire world.
Elk Cove Vineyards Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir is considered by many wine critics to be one of the best new world bottles of Pinot Noir on the market today. It showcases the many advancements that the state of Oregon has made in terms of wine-making quality over time.
Best Sparkling Wine Without Food
Sparkling wine is unique in the sense that it provides texture through carbonation that can not be achieved with any other wine. There is a reason that sparkling wine is often served for toasts unaccompanied by food, as many hosts believe no snacks are needed along with sparklers.
Champagne is the most well-known and highly regarded region in the world when it comes to sparkling wine, and it is revered by all producers as the benchmark in terms of quality. Some of the top bottles of Champagne are household names and can be found all over the world.
While Champagne makes for a great option to be enjoyed without any snacks on the side, many wine critics believe that there are better values to be found in France. Champagne is of undisputedly high quality, but the price tags are often far too high for the average enthusiast.
Crémant is one of the best-kept secrets in the eyes of many wine critics, as it uses the same “Traditional Method” employed in the Champagne region. The traditional method produces refined wines full of finesse with very small bubbles.
Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux Brut is one of the best examples of a high-quality French sparkling wine that rivals Champagne in terms of quality. It is a fantastic option to be enjoyed alone and carries bright tasting notes of pear and green apple.
Best Wine To Drink Without Food – Conclusion
There are many different styles of wine that are suitable to be enjoyed without food, and knowing which wines to serve alone is one of the keys to throwing a successful outing or dinner party.
There are certain types of Rosé, white, red, and sparkling wines that make great candidates for serving alone, and many of them can be found at your local grocery store or wine retailer.