Sommelier James Lukezic’s Guide for Pairing Wine This Holiday Season

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Executive Managing Director, James Lukezic might be too busy working for Old Slip Capital Partners during the day, but he has some pretty exciting interests when he clocks out. Many people might not know that James Lukezic is also a sommelier. He grew up immersed in the wine business. “My family has been making and selling wine for centuries. They have owned wineries in Slovenia and the Collio region of Italy,” James says. James wanted to continue with the family legacy, so he became a sommelier. “My favorite wines are Napa Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs from Oregon’s Willamette Valley,” he says. With the holiday season fast approaching, James Lukezic shares a few tips to help people pair their favorite foods with wines.


Wine Pairing 101

According to sommelier James Lukezic, there are a few simple rules to follow to pair wine. Everyone who considers themselves wine lovers will find this information useful. As a general rule, red wines go better with stronger meats such as steak and lamb. If you plan on enjoying a fish, seafood, or chicken dish, then white wine is a better pairing. Although these are the basics of wine pairings, more experienced wine enthusiasts can pair the flavors to compliment the wine. For example, a lemon chicken would go great with a more acidic wine such as a pinot gris or Sauvignon Blanc.


Wine Pairing Guide


Chardonnay: According to James Lukezic, many people enjoy Chardonnay because it’s a full-bodied white wine. The main notes of Chardonnay are oak and a hint of buttery notes. A glass of Chardonnay goes well with creamy cheeses, pork, almonds, lobster, and cheesecake. 


Pinot noir: One of James Lukezic’s favorite varieties, Pinot Noir is a lighter red that has a fruitful flavor. While it pairs best with meats, Pinot Noir is also a tremendous complimentary for duck, lamb, mushrooms, chocolate, salmon, and orange.


Cabernet Sauvignon: This is a favorite and popular red wine due to its full body, bold tannins, and subtle notes of fruit. James Lukezic points out that a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon pairs excellently with lamb, venison, ahi tuna, cheddar, and bittersweet chocolate. 


When he’s not adding wines to his extensive collection, James Lukezic’s other interests include the United States Polo Association, New York City’s Fencers Club, and the American Helicopter Society. In his successful career, he has worked for the big financial institutions such as Merrill Lynch, Citigroup Global Markets, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.