Transport Your Tastebuds on a Holiday Flavor Journey
The holiday table overflows with treasured flavors, from perfect golden turkey to sweet potato casserole brimming with pecans. Choose your wines wisely to take this abundant feast on a magical taste adventure. Carefully paired bottles complement individual dishes and tie the meal into a symphonic story. Read on for key tips on selecting the best Thanksgiving and Christmas wines to have your guests remarking that the food and drink seem to melt decadently together.
Food and wine pairings can heighten these special seasonal flavors, transporting your tastebuds. Carefully selecting wines to complement your holiday dishes will have your guests remarking on how fruit, oak, and citrus notes dance on their palates. Read on for recommendations of wines to pair with classic Thanksgiving and Christmas flavors.
Thanksgiving Wines: Complementing Turkey, Stuffing, and All the Fixings
Thanksgiving isn’t complete without turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and all those savory sides. Choosing wines with enough body and flavor to stand up to these hearty dishes is key.
A rich, oaked Chardonnay has flavors of butter and toast that echo stuffing and creamed corn. The wine’s weight matches hearty gravy and turkey while contrasting crunchy green beans. This is America’s most popular wine, so it’s no surprise that it goes perfectly with a Thanksgiving meal. It’s a fairly complimentary wine with its often sweet or oak flavor. Chardonnay is an especially good choice if you are having a meal that includes many rich dishes.
Riesling may taste sweet upfront but often has a spicy or gingery finish. These flavor layers mirror cranberries, roasted squash, and pumpkin pie spice. Riesling cuts through Turkey’s fattiness and brings out subtle herbs in the stuffing. The flavor of it can range from very sweet to just having a hint of a citrusy flavor. One of the best parts about this wine is that it is fairly inexpensive, and you can get a decent bottle of it for around $10-$20.
Earthy Pinot Noir
The lightness of Pinot Noir keeps it from overpowering turkey. Its cherry and mushroom notes resonate with gravy, roasted veggies and cranberry sauce. The wine turns silky with each bite, encouraging you to go back for more. Get a rich blend if you want to go with Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving. Most domestic options will be good. Just make sure that it has a sweet, fruity flavor so that it will complement the meal and not get overpowered by it.
Christmas Wines: Playing Counterpoint to Ham, Duck and Beef
Christmas dinner showstoppers like glazed ham, crispy duck or prime rib demand wines with their own personality.
Tart German Riesling
This is a good option for households with ham as the centerpiece of their Christmas meal. In particular, German Riesling complements pork dishes well as they don’t taste as sweet as other wines. Zinfandel or Rose are also good choices. Riesling’s high acidity slices through fatty ham and rich pan sauces. Its minerality acts as a refresher between bites of savory-sweet gaminess, while white peach notes pick up honey glaze hints.
Ham and duck set up a perfect contrast for a jammy, spicy Zin. The wine’s black fruit and white pepper vibrate against cured and confited meats. Rose’s strawberry and nectarine flavors also partner well. Pairing wine with duck can differ greatly from turkey as duck tends to be fattier and gamey. Red wines tend to be a good option as they can tone down the flavor of the duck. Now, if you plan on serving your duck with a sauce made of fruit, stick to a white wine instead.
Bold Cabernet Sauvignon
Prime rib demands a full-throttle Cabernet, with concentrated cassis and tobacco marrying the meat’s nutty umami. Cabernet powers through fat and texture, its chewy tannins gripping each juicy bite. Many families are choosing to go all out for Christmas and opting for a meal with the main course being red meat of some kind. For wine, your best bet is to choose a Cabernet Sauvignon. It can bring out the flavors of the meat without the wine being underpowered.
With a reliable wine pairing guide, your holiday table can delight in food and wine working in harmony. The right bottles transport your guests, evoking cozy memories as flavors come together.
Beyond the Bird: Wine Pairings for Vegetarian Main Dishes
Not everyone eats meat during the holidays, but vegetarian dishes deserve delicious wine pairings. Whether your main course is a hearty vegetable pie, mushroom Wellington or lentil roast, these bottles can be perfect partners.
An aged fino or amontillado sherry makes viruses like mushrooms, lentils, and walnuts sing. The fortified wine’s toasted almond and caramel notes resonate with umami richness and earthiness. Its crispness cuts through the pastry and enrobes vegetable flavors.
Silky Pinot Noir
The gentle nature of Pinot lets vegetable and vegetarian dishes shine while echoing their flavors. For mushroom dishes, Pinot’s own mushroomy qualities enhance savory depth. Its red berry brightness counters hearty pastry and gravy.
** textured Viognier**
Lush Viognier softens the edges of holiday vegetarian dishes with textures of apricot nectar and orange blossom honey. These lightly sweet tones complement roasted winter vegetables, nuts, and warm spices. The wine’s weight stands up to hearty veggie pies or tarts.
For vegetable dishes with herbes de Provence or rosemary, zesty Beaujolais is a perfect foil. Its red berry fruit has an undertone of black pepper and thyme, bringing out the food seasoning. Beaujolais cuts through rich cheese or eggs baked into a tart.
With a spectrum of vegetarian main course options, expand your wine horizons this holiday season. Discover new flavor affinities that make wine and food taste their best.
Dessert Wines: Sweet Endings with Sauternes, Port and Ice Wine
After a generous holiday meal, finish on a high note with sweet dessert wines. Their luscious flavors are made for holiday confections like dense fruitcake, pumpkin pie and gingerbread cookies.
This iconic French dessert wine wraps layered sugar, marmalade, and honeyed notes around spice-laced holiday treats. Sauternes’ viscosity echos custards and batter while contrasting crispy cookies or pie crusts. Its orange blossom nuances highlight pumpkin and warm baking spices.
Port Wine’s gorgeous red fruit center has enough backbone to embrace holiday baking’s rich density. Baking spices, chocolate, and nuts feel elevated by Port’s dried cherry and cassis tones. It becomes velvety smooth on the palate, echoing buttery crusts and melted confectioner’s sugar frosting.
Golden Ice Wine
Ice Wine is a heavenly pairing for lighter, fruit-based desserts like peach cobbler or cranberry trifle. It concentrates pear, apricot, and honeydew melon essences to balance tart fruit. Candied ginger notes recognize sweeter holiday cake accents and caramel sauces.
Raise a Glass to Holiday Harmony
With intention and some guidance, you can choose holiday wines to blend seamlessly with your meal. Not only will perfectly paired Chardonnays, Rieslings, and Cabernets elevate individual dishes like duck, prime rib, and pumpkin pie. But the right bottles will provide a complementary theme to bridge your menu, from the first course to the finale. This holiday season, transport your guests on a shared flavor journey that orchestrates tastes of oak, berry, clove, and chestnut into an unforgettable epicurean experience. Cheers, and happy feasting!
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