November 12, 2021 5 min read
Wine Pairing for the Holidays (Rules of Thumb and Suggestions)
A potential holiday conversation needing wine:
“Hey Grandma, did you buy any Bitcoin this year? No? Let’s have a glass of wine and discuss. WAIT… what wine do we pair whilst we talk?" V ERY important (kinda).
That said, you may want to have some holiday wines picked out for the meals where the above conversation can evolve.
Picking holiday wines is easy. Basically, if the wines you pair don’t steal away from the food or conversation (as in “wait…what the hell are we drinking?! This sucks!) then you have a winner. Listed below is a collection of wines we at Lucky Rock Wine Co have curated for any type of holiday chit chat. It can be fun to put a little thought into the wines you bring out! If all goes wrong, there’s booze to help lift the vibe around the table when you crash and burn on the wines you picked. You won’t though...unless you ignore our suggestions below then probably yes.
What to stay away from
Thanksgiving Wine or Friends-Giving or Turkey-Day
Red: Light/Medium-bodied Gamay/Beaujolais
Red Wine Recommendations:
If you are eating things along the lines of turkey and mashed potatoes, you will want to pick a universal wine. Our personal preference is Pinot Noir. This wine is light but has tons of flavor. It also contains acid which helps cut through fats, but not enough to where it takes the enamel off your teeth. Another wine we recommend if you’re feeling adventurous is Gamay/Beaujolais. This wine has similar properties to a Pinot Noir while offering a different basket of fruits and flavors.
White: Crisp Styled Chardonnays
White Wine Recommendations
Following the same principles above, Chablis ( Chardonnay from France’s Burgundy region) is a safe and delicious bet. It has nice acid while not being overbearing (like your drunk Aunt). This wine plays well with a wide variety of Thanksgiving foods. It is somewhat universal and is a good white wine option for those that want the same pair-ability as Pinot Noir or Gamay.
Christmas Wine/Festivus Wine
Red: Southern Rhone Blends
Red Wine Recommendation: Kermit-Lynch Cotes du Rhone
The food at Christmas/Festivus is very similar to Thanksgiving, but we’ve found it leans a bit more on the heavier side (*see our crab recommendation below). Again, a great Pinot Noir can pair exceptionally well here. If you’re looking for a FUN wine, we’ve been drinking a lot more of Etna Rosso. This wine comes from Sicily and is grown several thousand feet up a volcano...sweet right? Etna Rosso is typically a blend of a couple different grapes and has a flavor profile that could be described as a “more rustic Pinot Noir”. The wine has gotten a bit more expensive, but they are still affordable in the grand scheme. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something more hardy it’s worth checking out Rhone blends (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre)or “Syrah blend”. These can pack more substantial, meaty and smokey (mmmm) flavors. If you’re on a budget, you can definitely find some cheap wine brands that still pack a punch in quality in both Etna Rosso and Rhone Blends.
White: Dry Riesling
Recommendation: Forge Cellars Finger Lakes Riesling
We love Riesling in our family. The heavier the food, the more you might want to have a touch of sweetness. That being said...a nice dry Riesling (not sweet) can pair very well with a large swath of foods. And even though it can be on the leaner side, it still has a lot to offer and is often a crowd pleaser.
*Crab Recommendation: If you are eating crab (we hear a lot of people do…unless you’re allergic) then a Chard with a little more weight (buttery?) can go well with all that rich meat and butter. We would try and find something a little less oak and a little more butter.
New Year’s Eve Wine
This one is easy: Sparkling Wine & Champagne. We were once told by a chef that “champagne pairs with everything”. We’re down with that. Besides, you're just walking around snacking on crackers and meats looking fly in your cocktail attire, right?! Champagne pairs well with fancy clothes.
Here are some of our fancy shmancy recommendations.
Sparkling Red Wine Recommendation: Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Vigneto Cialdini
Yes, the above recommendation is a mouthful...and so is Lambrusco. The sparkling red wine from Italy is unlike anything most people are used to; it’s bubbly, tannic (more or less, depending on the type), and sweet. Lambrusco has gotten a bad rap because of its mass production and cutting corners by the bigger brands (avoid Riunite, if possible). However, if you find the right producer the wine is phenomenal. A good Lambrusco can go with just about any dish because of it’s perfectly balanced tannic nature. This is a great option for your “white-averse” party goers who still want to fill their flute with bubbly for the New Year’s toast.
White: Crémant (Basically a Champagne but will generally cost you less)
Sparkling White Wine Recommendation: Allimant Laugner Crémant D’Alsace Rose
A good affordable Crémant is perfect if you are throwing a party, but don’t want to spend $40 a pop for Champagne. Most Crémant tastes just as good as NV Champagne so your partygoers won’t even notice it. Besides, if you are partying right, it’s likely that your guests won’t even know what’s in the glass (drink responsible folks). It might as well be delicious AND budget friendly.
For a more high-end offer try Grower Champagnes.This is a fantastic option if you want to impress your guests who are a little more wine-savvy. These wines are growing in popularity (and price) but can offer a good alternative to your stereotypical Moet or Veuve bottle.
Want a good Grower Champagne?Try Veuve Fourny.
Hangover alert (!!): If you drink a lot of heavy red wine like a huge Cabernet Sauvignon (especially late at night) you may find yourself feeling like an axe was used on your head the next day. You’ve been warned.
Note: Feel free to shoot us an email if you need a wine suggestion. Due to our ignorance, we have stuck to the holidays we know best. We do love research if you want to cook us a dish and discuss pairings
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