Have you ever stopped and wondered if the reason Christmas is the season to be jolly is because it gives you excuses to indulge in all of the wines and foods? Seriously, we don't want to sound like the Grinch, but there is nothing jolly about having to sit next to your weird uncle at your Christmas dinner or spend all of your salary on Christmas gifts for friends and family. The real reason it still is a great season is that you eat all of the foods and drink all of the drinks. You're so welcome for that epiphany!
Anyways, now that you're a mature, responsible adult woman, this holiday season, it's time you take your food and drink up a notch. And what better way to do that than with food and drink pairings that make your food taste that much more delicious. And although you are super mature and responsible, we've done the heavy lifting for you: put together a cheat sheet for pairing, so all you have to do is start cooking. Okay, so we did part of the heavy lifting for you, not all.
In any case, get your aprons and wallets out, ladies (also, your wine glasses)! Here are a few combinations that will have your guests drooling for more and have you looking like the more hip, less prison time version of Martha Stewart.
Typically, the most well-known holiday wines for pairing with appetizers are Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. But, we're guessing you want to make this Christmas party extra special, so you need the specifics!
Riesling: Riesling wines are usually on the sweeter end of the spectrum due to their high acidity. With its intense aromas of orchard fruits, these wines are the perfect pairing for appetizers that include apples, chicken, crab, duck, or salmon.
Pinot Grigio: A light-bodied and spritzy flavored wine made of white grapes that's equal parts crisp as it is acidic, appetizers that include shellfish like sushi, or scallops, will make your taste bud's dreams come true.
Sauvignon Blanc: Refreshing and light, Sauvignon Blanc is the most common dry wine. Therefore, serve this uniquely flavored wine with chicken skewers or clams and mussels.
Chardonnay: Depending on how the Chardonnay was produced, this wine can dramatically change in taste. However, it is typically dry to medium full-bodied with moderate acidity and is known for its buttery texture. Pair your Chardonnay with soft cheese plates like Brie or Mozzarella.
Pinot Noir: A light to medium body and medium-dry red, Pinot Noir greets you with its earthy, herbal, and spiciness. Pair this with more savory appetizers like
Can wine lovers eat cheese without wine? (Besides string cheese, of course) Didn't think so. Wine and cheese are made for each other, but, if you haven't noticed: there are many wines and a lot of different kinds of cheese. So we broke down the cheeses and have some helpful hints on how to pair it with wine!
Best wines with hard cheese: When most people think of hard cheeses, cheddar, comte, and Manchego comes to mind. The good news, these are the easiest wines to pair. Combine these cheeses with a medium-bodied red with dark fruits like a cabernet sauvignon, a red blend, or a rioja.
Wine with Soft Cheese: Ah, the spreadable cheese that doesn't make it difficult to eat. Cheese like brie and camembert are delightful with a red wine like pinot noir full of fruit flavors. But, to be fair, rose can also be a game-changer with these cheeses.
Wine with blue cheese: Blue cheese: you love it or hate it. If you're into the Stilton or Gorgonzola cheese, pair them with a port or stilton.
Wine with goat cheese: Finally, an excuse to break out a can of Bev! A crisp, dry white or rose bring out the delicious flavors in goat cheese.
Ah yes, the main show of the meal. But, if wine is important to you, as it should be, you should treat your bottle of wine like its own dish. And just like you wouldn't choose a side dish that doesn't go well with your main meal, you shouldn't choose a wine that doesn't go with your main meal for your get together. They are all extremely connected. So, let's go through the most common holiday meals and decide what to pair with each one!
Turkey is white meat and is low in fat. (Which is why it can dry out if it isn't cooked carefully) Both red and white wines do work, but here's a helpful tip: To make your wine match, choose a full-bodied white or a medium-bodied red that has low or medium tannins and has high acidity. If you're feeling celebratory, champagne or sparkling wine does pair deliciously with turkey.
Ham is a little more complicated than ham because many different production methods affect its taste. As a whole, ham, with its sweet and salty taste, pairs deliciously with wines that have a touch of sweetness and a bold fruity flavor.
But, if you're looking for a more in-depth pairing for your ham, don't worry; we can dive into that as well. Ham has three primary production methods, which include salting or dry curing, wet-curing, or smoking. And to make matters more complicated, some producers use a combination of all of these different methods. So, to make a wine pairing guide that will help you make decisions, we're going to describe ham by taste and share what wines would pair best with it.
Hams made for melt-in-your-mouth appetizers are typically thinly sliced, have an incredibly bold flavor, and have a higher than average salt content. We're talking about the prosciuttos and speck hams of the world. Because of their high salt content, these types of hams are made for any sparkling wine. Yup, even sparkling red! If you do not feel that celebratory (aka you're boring), you can also reach for a dry, crisp white wine. Our suggestion is to pop open Bev cans. Crisp, dry, and a little bit fizzy, our California wine is ham's best friend.
Now, let's talk about savory and smoky ham that has medium to thick-cut slices. Their bold flavor is often not that sweet. These are the ham styles you typically buy smoked but can also be baked pre-sliced ham in the deli section. More specifically, these are the Black Forrest hams and even Spams. Because this kind of ham has less sweetness but is filled with texture, medium-bodied red wines do best—specifically, super fruity ones with moderate acidity. Wines like Zinfandel and Pinot Noir, particularly, make this type of ham extra delicious.
Likely the most popular hams served on major holidays are the sweet and salty hams. These medium to thick-cut hams have a chewier texture and are sweeter. These, of course, include Canadian bacon and honey-baked hams. A general rule of thumb for pairing sweeter foods is to pair a wine that has sweetness. So reach for a Riesling or a Merlot to give this ham a run for its money on what part of the meal tastes the most delicious.
Roast beef is best enjoyed with red wine by the Christmas tree. But, let's go into detail on which ones and why!
Bordeaux: Bordeaux doesn't have many tannins and, therefore, pair well with roast beef. With its sharp, mineral flavor, Bordeauxs are known to enhance the taste and texture of beef.
Shiraz: For succulent roast beef, reach for a Shiraz. Full-bodied and dry, but smooth with firm tannins, Shiraz tends to have notes of black pepper, smoke, and cloves. Shiraz's high acidity and balance of tannins make it pairs wonderfully with fatty cuts of meat.
Rioja: Bold and spicy, Rioja is a full-bodied, dry red. With flavors of herbs and plums, Riojas are perfect for Roast Beef that has been prepared with strong spices.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Full-bodied and dry, this wine was made for a well-seasoned beef roast because it can defend itself against the powerful tannins. But, it also tastes delicious with richer cuts of beef.
Merlot: Aromatic and full-bodied, Merlot generally is the preferred wine for those who aren't crazy about the tannins many other red wines have. Because of that, it pairs deliciously with roast beef!
No quality food and wine pairing cheat sheet would be complete without diving into everyone's favorite course! Desserts and dessert wine are made for one another. But, as with all great things in life, there are some caveats. Some desserts and wines simply just don't vibe.
If you're looking for a sweet wine that pairs deliciously with fruitcake, Moscato is an easy selection. With its sweet fizziness with citrus, peach, and apricot aroma and flavors, the two complement each other nicely. And by nicely, we mean deliciously.
Snacking on the gingerbread house your kids(or maybe even you) spent hours making? Been there, done that. And honestly, been there, will do that again soon. If you're enjoying anything with a spiced gingerbread flavor, find yourself a glass of port wine. Port has a magical way of complimenting gingerbread's flavor.