Thursday, November 28, 2013

What are the Best Holiday Wine & Food Pairings? - A Guest Post by Vintage Wine Gifts

Every now & then someone asks to post a guest spot on this blog.  I end up rejecting 3 out of 4 requests, either because the poster wants to write about something completely off-topic (athletic shoes, camping gear, etc...), the poster's facts are wrong, or the poster simply can't write above a 7th grade level.

When Vintage Wine Gifts, a British seller of wine & spirits, asked if they could post a piece, I was skeptical but told them, if they would send me something on holiday food pairings that I'd take a look at it.  To my pleasant surprise, I received exactly what I'd asked for.

The following is a well written piece which outlines several possible pairings for Christmas dinner, based on the main dish.  The piece also includes links to some delightful holiday recipes.  Enjoy!
Vintage Wine Gifts Logo
Title: Vintage Wine Gifts Logo | This graphic courtesy of Vintage Wine Gifts.
Author Byline: David loves the festive season, especially as he can grab a bottle of the finest vintage port from his home cellar and share it with family and other guests. His love of Christmas is also helped by the fact his office closes for three weeks from mid-December!
What are the Best Holiday Wine & Food Pairings?

The holidays are always an exciting time for everyone. While we’re all gearing up to spend time with loved ones and take advantage of some well-deserved time away from the office, we’re also well stressed out about buying gifts and making sure out festive plans are all in place.

One thing that you have to get right is your festive wine choices. Although things like Eggnog and Mulled Wine are popular at Christmas and around the holidays in general, the great thing about festive wines is that you can actually choose to drink whatever you want; there aren’t any hard and fast rules about what you should and shouldn’t drink. Rather, your considerations should be around ensuring you match the wine to the meals you are making, as you normally would. As always, the big focus here is on how your festive wine matches with the meat component of dishes.

 Turkey served
Title: Turkey | Date: 10/27/2010 | Photographer: Howard Portnoy | This graphic was released into the public domain by the photographer.
Turkey is the traditional festive bird and as such the one that most people will be trying to find a match for. Most of the time, the general rule of thumb is that you have white wine with poultry, although this is often done with “solo” meats in mind. This is Christmas, so you’re not going to have turkey on the plate on its own, you need to match it with the herbs, sauces, vegetables, and all the other great tasting stuff on your plate.

If you do decide to stick with white, then Sauvignon Blanc is what you need to have on the table, although if you prefer red then a Shiraz or a Zinfandel variety – go for White Zinfandel if you prefer rose wine – is good, too.

The mistake many people make with duck is to assume that, because it’s a bird, you can use the same wines as you might do with turkey, or throughout the rest of the year with chicken. However,

Title: Roast Duck | This graphic was released into the public domain.
anyone who has cooked with or eaten duck knows it presents its own range of unique characteristics and therefore pairing challenges.

Duck is a much more complex meat, given its rich and fatty texture, so you need to consider how to balance this. Choose a wine based on how you’re cooking a festive duck. If you’re roasting it to have with vegetable trimmings, then a simple Red Burgundy works brilliantly. If you decide to move away from a traditional festive roast and plan to serve the duck lightly cooked with fruity or creamy sauces, go for a white like Sauternes.

If you’re having ham this holiday season then it comes down to a simple choice between taste preferences; go for a white like Reisling or explore lighter bodied reds. Keep the complex, oaky and full bodied red wines for lamb and beef. Pinot Noir is a perfect wine to put with ham, although a
Vintage Wine Gifts PortTitle: Vintage Wine Gifts - Niepoort Vintage Colheita Port 1944 | This graphic courtesy of Vintage Wine Gifts.
Zinfandel – red as well as rose – can work nicely, too.

Spicy Foods and Desserts
Port is a very traditional Christmas wine and is your only option here! If you’re cooking spicy foods on Christmas Day then ensure there’s Port on the table, and ensure white wines vacate the table when it is time for pudding!

Thank you Vintage Wine Gifts, those are definitely some great options for Christmas dinner.  To learn more about this company, readers can click on their logo, or the bottle of port, to visit their site.

Roast beef with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and vegetables
Title: Roast beef with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and vegetables | Photographer: HotBabyHot | Date: 03/29/2007 | This graphic was released into the public domain by the photographer.
I'd only add one final pairing thought.  Many people celebrate Christmas with a some version of roast beef; loin roast, eye round, or standing rib roast, etc... As alluded to in Vintage Wine Gifts' ham section, red meat requires a firm full-bodied red wine, sometimes with a bit of oak on the palette.

One such option is a sharp dry Bordeaux with a generous level of tannins and a nice mineral flavor to enhance the flavor of the beef.

Those who find Bordeauxs to be a little bold for their tastes might enjoy a peppery Shiraz with hints of smoke & cloves, and an acidity which compliments fatty meats.

Of course, only one rule is truly important, when it comes to Christmas.  This Christmas, pair whatever food & wine have with a generous helping of loved ones!

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