Choosing an ideal wine for Christmas festivities can be a hit or miss affair. We usually meticulously plan and prepare our menus, but sometimes the wine pairing is a last-minute thought. Here are some tips for effortlessly pairing Christmas foods and wine.
Christmas starters are the perfect time to pop open a bottle of bubbly. It pairs perfectly with a wide range of flavors and textures, but most importantly can handle anything from light and airy sweets to baked, grilled or even deep-fried appetizers.
- NV Segura Viudas Brut Cava, Spain (about $11 retail) THE SPLURGE
- NV Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut, California (about $28 retail)
Ham is a staple on many Christmas menus, but the salty meat can be tricky to match with wine. Ingredients such as a honey or sugar glaze can accentuate the bitterness of tannins. The best pairings are light-bodied red wines (pinot noir, merlot, syrah) without over-powering tannins ormedium-bodied whites (chardonnay, Riesling, vermentino or albarino) without searing acidity.
- 2011 Montes Alpha Chardonnay, Chile (about $12 retail)THE SPLURGE
- 2011 Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Vermentino, Italy (about $29 retail)
With beef, red wine is ideal, but as with other meats, it’s the added sauces or cooking methods that guide a perfect match. If the meat is cooked rare, the tannins are softened and offer a perfect opportunity to serve a high-tannin or youthful wine. If you plan to serve an older, fragile wine, consider preparing the meat medium-rare or medium.
- 2010 Liberty School Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $15 retail) THE SPLURGE
- 2010 Bell Vineyards Claret, California (about $36 retail)
Goose offers a unique texture and taste compared to traditional turkey. It is richer and generally has a distinct gamy flavor. When matching with wine, consider rich reds with a touch of spice such as Burgundies, Barolos, syrah or blends. For the adventurous, pairing aged Champagne is spectacular.
- 2010 Red Bicyclette Syrah, France (about $10 retail) THE SPLURGE
- 2010 Canto de Apalta by Lapostolle Proprietary Blend, Chile (about $22 retail)
Turkey may be the easiest to match with wine. Because of its fairly simple texture and taste, it offers many wines the ability to show off. However, if you are planning to bring out a favorite cellared wine, consider roasting the turkey rather than smoking or grilling. The more delicate flavorwill allow the wine to shine. If your cellar is not overflowing with choices, consider pinot noir, Spanish Riojo or chardonnay.
- 2011 Underwood Cellars Pinot Noir, Oregon (about $12 retail) THE SPLURGE
- 2011 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay, California (about $20 retail)
Something sweet will most likely be a part of your celebration. Keep it simple and remember the cardinal rule – the wine should be sweeter than the dessert.
- 2011 Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Moscato, California (about $10 retail) THE SPLURGE
- 2011 Tintero Moscato d’Asti, Italy (about $19 retail)