By Carl Hanson
May 20, 2016

Wine tastings are great on their own. But often it's much more pleasurable -- enlightening, even -- to taste them with food. After all, this is most likely how you'll be drinking them -- in the real world of daily dinners.

With that in mind, consider holding a wine-tasting dinner party, with food as an equally important partner.

Make it a potluck. Have friends bring a bottle or two of wine and a food item. You can make it appetizers or casseroles; maybe focus on Italian food with Italian wines, or do a tour of Asian cuisines with world Rieslings, or regional American food with American wines. The combinations are almost endless. (Here's a look at French Food and Wine Regions with loads of recipes and wine suggestions.)

To get you started, we've paired some of our top-rated recipes with wines.

Before you eat, take a few small sips of each wine to get a sense of the wine. Then pour a bit more from each bottle and compare with the food. See what you find out -- the results may surprise you. A wine that tasted deep and delicious as a sipper by itself may turn out to overwhelm one dish. It might be perfect with the next.

For more on the partnership between wine and food, check out Why Cooking With Wine Makes Food Taste Better.