Holiday food & Wine Pairings
Pairing Holiday Fare
When selecting wine to serve with the medley of flavors at a holiday dinner, the key is to balance tastes and intensity of flavors. It is also necessary to match the wine not just to the meat or main dish, but also to the way it is prepared, as the seasonings or cooking method can affect a pairing selection.
If turkey is prepared with a fruit-based or sweet sauce, for example, an off-dry white such as Riesling or Gewürztraminer can be a good match. If it is drizzled with buttery juices, the similar character of Chardonnay may be a good partner. Also, take into account the varied tastes from the side dishes-a rich, fruity red such as Shiraz or Zinfandel can complement strongly flavored side dishes. If opting for fish, salmon may pair well with a subtle white such as Pinot Gris if it is poached, but if it’s grilled, a light-bodied red wine is a better match.
Ultimately your preferences come into play, but here are suggestions to try with traditional holiday fare throughout the season. Our staff is always happy to offer additional recommendations and answer any questions you may have. Bon appétit!
Fruity and rich wines work well whether you prefer white or red. Because the meat itself is quite wine-friendly and can pair well with many whites and reds, take into account the range of sweet to savory flavors that the side dishes add to the mix.
- Red: Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, fruity Zinfandel
- White: Chablis, white Burgundy, Chardonnay (especially California or other new world with little or no oak), Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc
- Sparkling: Especially brut, rosé, or a dry sparkling Shiraz
Beef needs a wine with a bit of body. The protein and fat in beef can also soften tannic wines such as Brunello or Cabernet.
- Red: Barbaresco, Barolo, Bordeaux, Brunello, Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Malbec, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Rioja, Shiraz and Zinfandel
The slightly sweet flavor of ham pairs well with fruity, light- to medium-bodied whites or fruity reds. Pork loin pairs nicely with young and fruity Burgundy, Pinot Noir and Riesling, especially American or Spätlese.
- Red: Beaujolais, Burgundy, Merlot, Pinot Noir (especially if served with mustard sauce), young Zinfandel and off-dry rosé
- White: Chablis, Champagne, unoaked Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio and Riesling
The suggested red wines pair well with the stronger flavors of lamb, but seasoning opens more doors. If the lamb is seasoned with curry, a white such as Gewürztraminer or Riesling could pair nicely, and lamb roasted in garlic should match up with Zinfandel.
- Red: Amarone, Barbera, Barbaresco, Barolo, red Bordeaux and red Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, rosé Champagne, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Chianti, Côtes du Rhône, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Zinfandel
- White: Gewürztraminer or Riesling (if curry spiced)
The traditional tendency is to pair seafood with white wine. The tannins in red wine tend to taste a bit metallic with white fish, so it may be best to avoid pairing Cabernet, full-bodied Merlot and Syrah with seafood, including shellfish. However, tuna, salmon and some full-flavored fish make good partners with light reds such as Pinot Noir.
- Red: Pinot Noir
- White: Albariño, Chablis, Champagne, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Viognier