Students can enjoy wine at mealtimes without having to shell out big bucks, said Natalie MacLean, an accredited sommelier and author of Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. “Wine is an ideal way to dress up all sorts of dishes that are fairly straightforward,” she said. “It’s like putting rhinestones on jeans.”

MacLean said students should look for wines that are undervalued and underpriced, such as wines from Chile, Argentina and South Africa. She suggested trying popcorn with Chilean chardonnay, nachos with California Zinfandel, potato chips with French Champagne, pizza with Italian Chianti and hamburgers with Australian Shiraz. With spaghetti and other pasta, MacLean said to go with a regional match. “Go for any Italian red,” she recommended,“because when food and wine grow up together they often have some similar flavour elements.” And with the inevitable macaroni and cheese dinner, she said to uncork an oaky chardonnay from Chile.

For those trying to pair food and wine, she said to keep three things in mind: flavour, texture and weight. In all three categories, you are looking to complement or contrast. For example, when eating a rich, creamy dish, she suggested trying a zippy and refreshing wine like a New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

“But the best match is between you and the wine you like,” she said. “You shouldn’t drink something just
because some wine expert told you it goes with your dish. Don’t give up your pleasure. Don’t surrender it to a critic.”