wine and food

Illinois wine makers work with French-American hybrid grapes, as well as vinifera and native varieties to blend and produce a diverse range of high-quality wines. From sweet refreshing whites to dry robust reds, Illinois offers every palate a favorite flavor and plenty to try.

Enjoy this summary, put together by our IGGVA Enologist, Bradley Beam. This guide can help you navigate the wonderful flavors and food pairings for the most common Illinois wine varieties.

White Illinois Wine Varieties:

Grape Style Aromas & Flavors Food Pairing
Chardonel Dry Oak-Aged, Dry Un-Oaked, Semi-Dry, Sweet Light citrus, often accentuated with grassy or spicy notes. When oaked, added buttery and vanilla aromas exist. Chicken and fish, lightly seasoned and/or sauced. Most cheeses, seafood, white pasta sauces, squash and pumpkin vegetables
Frontenac Gris Semi-Sweet to Dessert; Sparkling Intense aromas of pineapple, peach, apricot, occasionally citrus. Very crisp acidity. Brie-style cheeses, blue cheeses, deserts, fruit.
La Crescent Semi-Sweet to Dessert; Sparkling Intense aromas of apricot and grapefruit, sometimes Muscat-like. Brie-style cheeses, blue cheeses, desserts, fruit.
Niagara Semi-Sweet to Dessert Sweet aroma with intense “grapey” notes. Light cheeses, seafood, fowl, pasta in light, herbed, sauces.
Seyval Blanc Dry Oak-Aged, Dry Un-Oaked, Semi-Dry, Sweet Peach, grapefruit, pineapple. At its best can have a subtle grassy complexity. Aromas typically very light to intense depending on season. Light cheeses, seafood, fowl, pasta in light, herbed, sauces.
St. Pepin Semi-Sweet to Dessert; Sparkling Apple and pear, light floral, light sweet labrusca character. Sweet foods, dessert, fruit dishes for sweet style. Flexible with many foods when traditional method sparkling wine.
Traminette Dry to Sweet, No Oak Intensely aromatic, floral aromas, can have accents of ginger and mint. Ham, prosciutto, fruit-­marinated pork. May match well with spicy Chinese or Thai dishes.
Vidal Blanc Dry Un-Oaked, Semi-Dry to Sweet, Dessert Crisp citrus flavors, at times has peach or apple character. Often used for ice wine production in Canada. Seafood, pasta, light cheeses, salads.
Vignoles Dry Un-Oaked, Semi-Dry to Sweet, Dessert Apricot, pineapple, apple. Intensely aromatic Brie-style cheeses, blue cheeses, desserts, fruit.


Red Illinois Wine Varieties:

Grape Style Aromas & Flavors Food Pairing
Cabernet Franc Dry Oak-Aged, Dry Un-Oaked Bright berry with black and bell pepper. Typically low to moderate acidity with gripping tannins. Grilled red meats and vegetables.
Chambourcin Dry Oak-Aged, Dry Un-Oaked, Semi-Dry to Sweet, Rose, Port, Sparkling Dried fruits, cherry, berry, often accented with tobacco.  Usually low in acidity and tannin. Wild fowl and venison, peppered pork loin.

 

Concord Sweet Un-Oaked Intense grapey character, often called “foxy” like red grape juice or jelly. Useful cooking as a marinade, adding unique flavors to meat, sausages, cheeses.
Frontenac Dry Oak-Aged, Dry Un-Oaked, Semi-Dry to Sweet, Rose, Port, Sparkling Distinct and intense cherry aroma, often accompanied with anise, mint or cedar spices when aged in oak. Tends to be high in acidity, but low in tannin. Pork, fatty meats, soft cheeses. Rose works well with light pork dishes, and some salads. Port is a nice compliment to chocolate desserts.
Marechal Foch Dry Oak-Aged, Dry Un-Oaked, Semi-Dry to Sweet, Rose, Port, Sparkling Light berry, distinctive varietal aroma.  Often high in acidity, but low in tannin. Wild game meats, venison, turkey.
Marquette Dry Oak-Aged, Dry Un-Oaked Cherry and berry aromas, often with complex spice, earth, and oak notes if aged in barrels. Low to moderate tannin. Light meats and cheeses, mushroom sauces.
Noiret Dry Oak-Aged, Dry Un-Oaked, Off Dry Distinctive red fruit with bell and black pepper. Moderate tannin. Grilled red meat and vegetables, spiced dishes.
Norton Dry Oak-Aged, Port Intense aromas, dark berry, cigar box spice. Crisp acidity tannin. Heavy red meat dishes, aged cheeses.
Susanne BullockIllinois Wines