As the holidays approach there is an increasing amount food, parties, and family gatherings. Options abound when picking a main course for a holiday feast and the wine pairing possibilities are similarly endless.
Dry sparkling wines, however, go with anything. For those wanting a still wine, though, there are many ways to fine tune the selection process.
The classic Thanksgiving main course is, of course, turkey. How the bird is cooked and preferences for white or dark meat make a difference in the type of wine paired with the dish.
With a roasted turkey and a penchant for white meat, a white wine works best. A barrel-aged chardonnay with its combination of fruit, acid, and smokiness pairs well with roasted turkey, especially one that has sage dressing. Try a Riesling with an apple or corn bread stuffing. The acid and apple flavors in Riesling complement the bird. For a rounder wine with some sweetness try a Muller Thurgau. It’s like a Riesling but with more flavor and less acid. A Pinot Gris makes a great compliment for an oyster dressing.
Pair light red wine with dark meat from a roast turkey or with a smoked turkey. Traditionally, the red to drink would be a Pinot Noir, but a Gamay Noir offers a nice, dark berry flavor with a mild, silky mouth feel. A Tempranio is a good match for turkey with paprika or cumin flavoring.
Deep-fried turkey goes best with a Syrah, a light style Zinfandel or a Chardonnay.
Of course, not every one has turkey. Ham-centered feasts go best with a Pinot Noir or Gamay Noir. As with turkey, a Reisling complements a ham with apples. To break with tradition, try a sweet dessert wine like an ice wine or late harvest wine. The strong sweetness of the wine complements the saltiness of the ham. It’s like having ham with breakfast and topping it with maple syrup.
Some families choose prime rib as a main course. Prime rib is interesting to pair wine with. On its own, it has a delicate taste that would go best with a lighter red like a Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Dolcetto. However, with its traditional condiments of horseradish mayonnaise or au jus the flavor profile is changed. Try a Cabernet Sauviaugn, Syrah, or Claret (a blended red table wine usually made with Merlot, Cabernet Sauviaugn and one or two additional red varietals).
On the East Coast it is common to have lobster for holiday meals. If that’s the planned menu, then try a Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc.
One of the fads of resent holiday meals is the Turducken. Based on the three meats involved, follow the same list as the roast turkey. Lean a little more on the light reds as there is duck involved.
For Tofurkey try a Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Tofurkey tends to taste very salty so light whites pair well. Perhaps a dryer Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc would work as well.
Some Mexican friends have said that their family tradition is to have tamales – dry or sweet white wines go well with Mexican cuisine.
Rest assured, no matter what the family’s traditional entrée is for the holidays, there is a wine to match.