Wine Pairing Guide For The Holidays

Make the most of your favorite dishes with the perfect wine companions….
Tis’ The Season for entertaining and family gatherings in celebration of the Holidays. I get asked this question quite often; especially this time of year and that is; What is the best wine to serve with my Holiday meal? Prior to starting my own business I had the awesome opportunity to work for one of our local wineries here in Colorado. The four year experience has gained me great knowledge about wine, grape varietals and the many styles and types available. I compiled my old wine tasting notes together with this wine pairing guide so you can make the most of your favorite dishes with the perfect wine companions. These are simply some suggestions; and on occasion, I have paired wine with the meal but for the most part I serve whatever wine we like and I usually will shop for the best deals of the week at our local liquor stores or wineries. You can bet we will have Beer as a beverage of choice too! We are not real formal around here!  🙂 Whatever wine you enjoy sipping on, is the wine to serve! ~Cheers

Chardonnay: Complex fruit flavors and often a rich, creamy texture; the most popular white wine in the U.S. to date.
Swirl and taste: Green apple, pear, melon, creamy lemon, and sometimes pineapple, rounded out with butterscotch and vanilla.
Pair with:
Sweet shellfish
White-fleshed fish ― halibut, black cod (sablefish), sturgeon, mahi-mahi, tilapia
Chicken and turkey
Winter squash
Risotto and pasta
Cream and butter sauces
Mild Caribbean dishes with tropical fruit flavors

Pinot Gris/Grigio: Pinot Grigio is usually crisp, light, and steely, with great acidity; Pinot Gris (the same grape) is often made into a rounder, more complex wine.
Swirl and taste: Pear, lemon (sometimes leaning toward lemongrass), melon, and sweet spice flavors often come with a flinty edge ― imagine wet stones.
Pair with:
Richer fish ― tuna, salmon
Fresh herbs
Simple but rich sauces
Mild Asian dishes
Coconut milk–based curries
Some cheeses ― Grùyére
Pinot Noir: A light-bodied, low-tannin, silky, sensual red, handed stardom by the movie Sideways in 2004 (but still only the fifth most-popular red wine in the U.S.)
Swirl and taste: Red or dark berries, cherries, plums, violets, warm spices (cloves, cinnamon), herbs, sometimes and orange peel with an underside of cedar, smoke, leather, mushrooms, and loam.
Pair with:
Pungent poultry and duck
Hearty fish ― salmon, tuna
Ham, spicy pork
Earthy legumes like lentils
Warm spices ― cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ginger
Sweet-salty marinades
Fruit-based sauces ― with berries, dried cherries
Spiced Asian and eastern Mediterranean dishes
Many cheeses

Riesling: A crisp, aromatic wine, considered the noblest white of all by much of the wine world that goes with just about everything.
Swirl and taste: Delicate white peach, green apple and lime flavors ― or riper apricot, nectarine, and mandarin orange. Riesling often has a pleasant minerality akin to wet stones and a haunting diesel-like aroma (if you can imagine that as a good thing).
Pair with:
Salads and vegetables
Egg dishes
Sausages, salami, and charcouterie ― especially cured pork products
Asian dishes ― Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese (sushi!), Indian
Southwestern foods

Sauvignon Blanc: A lean, crisp, white wine that’s extremely flexible with food, and a great alternative to Chardonnay.
Swirl and taste: Tart lemon, grapefruit, melon, and tropicals like passion fruit ― even gooseberry ― over a pleasant grassiness and herbal quality.
Pair with:
Cheese (especially goat cheese)
Green vegetables (asparagus, zucchini, fresh peas, artichokes)
Delicate fish like sole
Fresh herbs
Mild vinaigrettes
Dishes with tangy dairy ingredients
Herbal, briny sauces
Syrah: Pair with lamb, sausages, and grilled meats of all kinds
Swirl and taste: Dark fruit (blackberries, blueberries, and cherries), black olives, and herbs against a backdrop of earthy leather, tobacco, and meaty bacon, laced with black pepper.
Pair with:
Grilled meats of all kinds
Roast pork
Game-venison, squab
Black olives
Dishes with lots of black pepper
Dishes with pungent herbs
Zinfandel: The most American wine of all (it’s grown almost nowhere else) – A juicy, jammy, spicy red wine that can turn your teeth purple.
Swirl and taste: Intense dark berries, dried cherries, plums, chocolate and black pepper ― a mouth filling wine.
Pair with:
Barbecue (Zin loves ribs)
Grilled foods ― leg of lamb, steak, chicken
Long-braised stews
Slightly spicy foods
Southwest and Mexican dishes
Moroccan spices ― coriander, cinnamon, cumin
Viognier: An exotic, full-bodied, rich-textured white wine.
Swirl and taste: Honeyed tangerine, peach, and apricot with honeysuckle and citrus blossom aromas.
Pair with:
Shellfish ― crab, prawns, scallops, lobster
Rich fish such as black cod (sablefish) and sturgeon ― especially with cream sauces
Spice-rubbed roast chicken and turkey
Braised or roasted root vegetables ― carrots, turnips, squash
Sauces with warm, aromatic spices
Moroccan dishes ― tagines, charmoula sauce
Mild curries ― Indian, Southeast Asian
Fruity, spicy condiments like chutney
Sparkling Wine: Made primarily from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, good-quality sparklers are made with the traditional Champagne method, where the bubbles are created in individual bottles.
Swirl and taste: Apple, lemon, lime, pear, strawberry, and cherry flavors with a pleasant yeastiness (like brioche baking) and earthy minerality. Bubbly’s great acidity makes it an excellent food wine (not just a sipper for celebrations).
Pair with:
Smoked salmon
Fish and shellfish
Cream sauces
Potpies, savory turnovers
Asian dishes of all kinds
Sausages ― especially poultry, pork, and Polish
Tangy, fruity condiments
Salty foods
Deep-fried foods
Potato chips

Cabernet Sauvignon: The king of reds; a big-structured, dark-fruited wine, the best of which become even more elegant with age.
Swirl and taste: Plums, blackberries, and black currant; sometimes violets or rose petals, and often mint, mocha, and eucalyptus or cedar; strong tannins underneath.
Pair with:
Well-marbled beef
Hearty fowl like duck
Spice rubs and sauces with lots of black pepper; mushrooms
Marinades with soy sauce
Long-braised stews
Pot roast
Grilled red meat
Dry Rose`: Crisp, pink wine that combines the rich fruit of red wine with the refreshing, low-tannin nature of white-not to be confused with white Zinfandel.
Swirl and taste: Strawberries, cherries, citrus, flowers, herbs, and spices.
Merlot: The most popular red wine in the U.S. Merlot has dark fruit flavors like Cabernet Sauvignon, but is generally a little rounder and softer.
Swirl and taste: Blackberries, blueberries, plums, cassis, and dried cherries combined with chocolate, cedar, and tobacco and sometimes hints of black olive.
Pair with:
Tender, milder cuts of beef, such as tenderloin
Meaty fish ― salmon, tuna
Black olives
Fresh herbs
Grilled foods
Meats with warm spices
Meats with fruit sauces ― berries, dried cherries

Wine pairings adapted from Sunset Magazine

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