Believe it or not, the holidays are near, so we need to start thinking about preparing gourmet meals again. With every big meal, it’s always important to consider your choice of food and wine pairings. A skillful wine pairing can be the finishing touch for a memorable dining experience.
Holiday meals are far more complex than an everyday dinner, as they feature multiple courses and cooking preparations. This fact, coupled with the types of wine available, can make the task seem daunting. But choosing the perfect wine really isn’t that complicated; just keep in mind that there’s no single perfect wine.
The two essential rules to help you choose the right wines for your meal: subtly flavored dishes are best served with delicate wines, while robust dishes demand full-flavored wines; and simple dishes work best with complex wines, while complex dishes are best with simple wines.
The wine shouldn’t compete with the food, but complement its flavor and complexity. Here are the basic guidelines and a few recommendations for wines that go with traditional holiday fare.
- Pork. The customary holiday meat matches up with a variety of wines. However, ham-especially if it’s baked or glazed-may not pair well with some very tannic red wines. If you want to serve red wine, Beaujolais is recommended-especially Nouveau. For a blush or a white wine, check out the Renwood Syrah Rosé or Hess Select California Chardonnay.
- Turkey. Just about any wine can complement a tender, moist turkey. But adding side dishes full of spice and fruit creates a more elaborate presentation. For stand-alone turkey, try a light and fruit Grenache such as D’Arenberg "The Custodian" Grenache. If you crave a little sweetness, a fine Riesling like Hoffman-Simon Piesporter Kabinett will pair nicely.
- Beef. A medium to full-bodied red wine is a natural. So with steak or pot roast, a big tannic Cabernet Sauvignon like Hess Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice. For beef dishes with a pepper crust, add a little zest with a hearty Zinfandel like Pedroncelli Mother Clone Zinfandel. For delicate red meats such as lamb or veal, a medium-bodied wine like Chateau Julian Merlot would be appropriate.
Regardless of what you’re serving, the wine that pairs best is always the one enjoyed by everyone. AA!