Pairings from the Cellar
Around this time of year, we get a lot of questions from people wanting a special wine for their special occasion with people spending so much time looking for that one unique wine to compliment the meal. But Thanksgiving and Christmas are often feasts of diverse food so picking the perfect wine to impress your guests is difficult. Indeed one bottle will never be enough for any crowd of more than one so let yourself explore with only a couple guidelines.
These gatherings are celebrations of friends and family and celebrations are made for bubbly. Avinjo Cava is the go-to at our house on days that end in "y" but the best bubblies for the traditional fare tend to be the ones with some red grape character. Bright raspberry and cranberry flavors are a natural accompaniment. Try an Alsatian Cremant with a solid percentage of Pinot Noir. Or a Blanc de Noir from the U.S. or Champagne. Some Cava roses are out there too, but I'd steer clear of the Treppat based ones.
One of the challenges with the food on these days is American's favorites tend to be some of the worst pairs with turkey. At least certainly on the white side. Oaky Chardonnay and grassy Pinot Grigio need to stay in the cellar with your big tannic cab when turkey is on the table. The pinot grigio's acid will at least help you chew the turkey but it won't contribute anything else. Face it, have you ever put lemon juice on turkey? What works with turkey is acid and a little sweetness. This shouldn't be a surpise given how well cranberry goes with turkey. Look to Pinot Noir from California and Oregon for that extra softness to work with your bird. Gamay (Beaujolais is a classic pair), and the Grenache/Syrah blends from the Rhone are wonderfully versatile wines for holiday fare as are the stronger flavored roses from Provence. Alsatian and German whites with their magical acid/sweetness will rock your taste buds, I remember a glorious Italian Gewurz from the Dolomites that sang with turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, and more.
Now if a roast is on the table, things can change on the pairing side but don't forget the many other items that you may be eating as well. The softness and spice of American Zinfandel can actually work quite well with a heavily spiced roast. My other favorite is a Brunello or Rhone Syrah. These two also bring leg of lamb to nirvanic levels!
Dessert usually entails a variety of very sweet pies made from pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato, apple or cranberry. These pies love high acid, densely sweet botrisized wines, with ice wine and Sauternes a natural. Although even a soid Moscato d'Asti can stand in. I prefer to leave the pies alone and curl up with some port in the corner, unless its a good pecan pie wherein a good madiera will make the angels sing.
So please stop by and share with us your favorite pairings or pick up one of ours. While wine is always a great gift, we've brought in some fun wine gifts as well as new Bourbons (A.D. Laws!), rums and tequilas. Please we offer great discounts on wine classes for the wine lover in your family. Have a great holiday season and cheers!!