A Guide to Pairing: Holiday Pairings

The holidays are fast approaching, and while we’ve been doing variety-based pairings and brushing over general rules of food accompaniments, we felt it was a great time to discuss pairings for the big holiday feasts coming up.

Not everyone wants a wine pairing-per-dish type of meal – hell, who has time to do a multi-course dinner with unique wine pairings for each course when the whole point of these holiday dinners is to load your plate and go to town!

So we always find it best to choose a wine that will be versatile through the whole meal (aperitif and dessert aside, of course).  For this installment of A Guide to Pairing, we’ll cover the bottles you should bring that can please all types of palates, and be as versatile as possible for the wide array of food you’ll be faced with this holiday season.

For holiday meals, it’s always good to have a little aperitif to get the palate warmed up and ready for the incoming meal, as well, it’s always proper to begin with a toast.  Bubbles are the go-to option for the occasion.  While Champagne can be incredibly festive, it can also be a bit heavy handed for waking up the palate.  We suggest something a bit lighter and more uplifting, like DOCG Prosecco.  If you happen to have a bottle of our Lot 738 lying around waiting for a special occasion, now is the time to pop it, but honestly, any good DOCG Prosecco will do.

Our white of choice for holiday meals is unanimously an oaked California Chardonnay with good fruit, and even better notes of butter.  Nothing goes as well with all the sides and the main proteins for the white wine lovers as a Chardonnay to play up and into all the great richness a festive holiday meal provides.  We’ll personally be serving the CAM Collection Chardonnay from our wine fridges, but any archetypal Cali Chard will find a welcome place at the holiday table.

While marketing will tell you Summer is Rosé season, we love challenging that notion as there is so much room for that great juice the remaining 3/4 of the year.  Especially around the holidays.  The brighter acidity, fresh fruit flavors, and lack of tannin make for a great wine to compliment the tannic meats and complimentary fruit flavors in the dishes on the table, all while cutting through the rich fats like a hot knife through butter.  While any dry Rosé will do, we lean towards the French, Provençal if possible, and think this is a great time to pop any you’re holding on to. We’ll personally be serving the Lot 719 from France.

Nothing like a good glass of red with a feast.  Now, while the holiday table fares very well with Pinot Noir (for those of us with copious amounts of bacon or sausage in our dishes), we strongly suggest a Sonoma-based Pinot Noir of any sort; we’ll be serving our Lot 729.  The softer tannin in Pinot will not harsh your palate with the more tannic turkey, ham, or roast meat that will generally be served for holiday dinners, and while Oregon is known for their Pinot Noirs, the slightly fuller expressions from one of California’s Sonoma subregions will hold up a bit better across all the possible side dish options you may be faced with, and the excellent acidity will help cleanse the palate without washing every flavor away unceremoniously.

Keeping in mind that we all have the family member who drinks “nothing but Cab,” how will you keep them happy?  Well, you can, and you’ll find your best friend in a Cabernet Sauvignon that is more elegant and softer with tannin, a bit more fruited, and delicately, deftly balanced.  Basically the exact opposite of those Napa Cab beasts that will break the bank and your pined over dishes.  You’ll want to look to new world regions with slow, rolling hills, and an old school lean to their winemaking.  Since we’re not breaking the bank, we’ll be offering this family member extra pours of our Lot 735 or our CAM Collection Cabernet, but any elegant, softer-on-the-palate Cab in your collection will do nicely.

Last but definitely not least: holiday desserts.  Or as we call it, second dinner.  You’ll be faced with an array of pies, cakes, custards, souffles, you name it.  We recommend a sweet wine, obviously, but you probably don’t want anything syrupy or viscous or overly cloying.  We’re huge fans of Northern Italy’s Moscato d’Asti (if you didn’t know already), and the slightly effervescent nature of the wine, paired with brilliant acidity and a perfect kiss of sweetness is perfect for any array of desserts.  And of course it’s great all on its own.  Any Moscato of quality from the region will do nicely awaking from its slumber in your cellar, but we’ll be going with our Lot 688.

So there you have it, our guide to holiday meal pairings.  If you get caught being in charge of the juice for the evening, no reason to fret – reference this article, go dig around in your collection, select the best you have (or are willing to offer), and off you go!

Happy Holidays from our families to yours.

Cheers!

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