On Global Television’s Morning Show today, Carolyn, Jeff and I chat about pairing wine with holiday treats such as shortbread, chocolate Santas and fruitcake …
… yes, we’re going there ;)
Can we be honest?
Holiday turkey dinner is just an excuse for most of us to chow down on our favourite side dish, whether it’s cranberry sauce, chestnut stuffing or sweet potatoes.
Often they have more interesting flavours than that dry old bird in the middle of the table. So please, let’s stop kidding ourselves with wine matches for turkey and focus on those pocket cravings.
And please pass me that bowl of mashed potatoes.
Why don’t we eat cranberry sauce more often throughout the year? Let’s talk about that at dinner.
In the meantime, try a tangy Chianti from Italy, a full-bodied red with dark fleshy berries, zingy acidity and a touch of pepper if perfect for tangy dishes.
Wine and Earthy Food
The earthy flavors of chestnut stuffing and succotash pair beautifully with Pinot Noir, a lovely, medium-bodied red wine with tart cherries and some spice. Think of it as a liquid equivalent of cranberry sauce in your glass.
Pinot Noir is also a terrific complement to that dry meat that we’re not going to discuss as it’s juicy and mouth-watering.
Sparkling wine also pairs well as the dry, earthy notes of the food are washed away on a swarm of effervescence so that the next mouthful tastes just as good. Makes me think I could eat the whole bowl. Note to self: make extra this year.
Wine and Creamy Food
For creamy side dishes, such as scalloped potatoes and creamed corn, choose a beautiful, buttery California Chardonnay. A lusciously rich Chilean Chardonnay with green apple, butter and vanilla notes also works well with gravy.
Okay technically, gravy is not a side dish on its own, but can you imagine holiday dinner without it? (And I must say that your ratio of gravy to turkey has been increasing over the past few years.)
Spicy sage and thyme stuffing dances with the Gewurztraminer, a refreshing white wine has classic notes of grapefruit, rose petal and a lick of spice. It’s also an excellent aperitif before dinner.
Bonus Tip: We serve many side dishes on the holiday table, and everyone helps themselves. Why not do the same with wine instead of just serving one or two?
Put out several bottles and let guests choose, and have fun mixing and matching.
Wine and Sweet Food
End your meal on a sweet note with buttery shortbread and icewine, with its lovely notes of lemon, lime and citrus sweetness.
Gingerbread and pumpkin pie with their darker, more spicy notes go well with a Late Bottled Vintage Port, as this fortified after-dinner drink has the extra sweetness and richness to match holiday desserts.
Vintage Port is also excellent for mercifully drowning out the taste of fruitcake.
Casas del Bosque Reserva Carmenère 2015
Rapel Valley, Chile
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Marlborough, New Zealand
Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Bourbon Barrels Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Monterey County, California, United States
Henry of Pelham Winery Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir 2014
Niagara, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
Inniskillin Niagara Estate Icewine Riesling 2014
Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
Mrs. Beachley’s Mulled Wine
California, United States
Fonseca Porto Bin 27
Douro Valley, Portugal
Marlborough, New Zealand