Family, friends and the spirit of thankfulness are upon us in this season of giving.
Many have prepared for this gastronomical glory by refraining from heavy meals and wine consumption. The time is here, though, to move past the pre-holiday cleanse and jump full force into this amazing season of food and wine. Don’t fret, January is around the corner and you can make the necessary weight loss resolution and acquire a gym membership. In the meantime, let’s talk food, wine and celebration.
The holiday feasts of Thanksgiving and Christmas, for the most part, share the same entree and accompaniments. For traditionalists, turkey, ham and prime rib top the menu, with each requiring their own wine pairing.
For starters, it’s always nice to start any celebration with a toast of sparkling wine. Whether it’s true Champagne, prosecco, cava or sparkling wine from the New World, nothing starts off a gathering of your friends and family like bubbles. Furthermore, sparkling wine is amongst the most versatile wine and pairs well with almost everything – pancakes included!
Turkey meals are open to just about every wine pairing. There are certainly wines that are better suited for the traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas fare, though. Some guidelines to consider if you seek the perfect pairing:
For white wines, buttery oaky chardonnays marry well with gravy-smothered turkey and stuffing. The flavor profile of viognier and dry gewürztraminer tie better with the mixed flavors of the meal. For red wines, most wines will work, but a simple rule will help your decision. For those that do not fancy gravy, lighter, juicier wines are best. Lovers of gravy and cranberry sauce can be best served with rich, fuller wines such as zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, Chateauneuf du Pape and Amarone.Ham has different requirements because of its sweet and salty nature. Dry rosè is by far the best option for ham lovers. The fresh, lively acidity in dry rosè and sparkling rosè cuts through the salty sweetness of ham. Similarly, red wine lovers need to utilize this same approach. Red wines of higher acidity work best. Beaujolais, pinot noir and barbera make excellent accompaniments.
Hearty, rich and savory prime rib requires the same in wine. The high fat content of the cut requires big bold reds to stand up to the fatty nature of prime rib. Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, Bordeaux, Chateauneuf du Pape, Rioja and Amarone will accommodate such a savory winter meal.
Alan Cuenca is an accredited oenophile and owner of Put a Cork in It, a Durango wine store. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.