One of the most frequent questions we get at WineCollective is what wine to pair with a big dinner like Thanksgiving or Christmas While WineCollective packages always feature amazing wines that have diverse food pairing options, here are some specific varietal recommendations specifically for Christmas, the holiday period and New Year’s Eve.
We’re all about versatility. Some people love to pair a monster wine with a monster meal. They reach for an aged Barolo or Chateauneuf du Pape and make the wine the star attraction. That is a great way to make a memorable meal, but how about those who don’t have a wide selection of aged wine superstars or who want to ensure a big party of feasters are all satisfied? (Some of this info can also be found in our Thanksgiving blog post as well!)
Grenache – Go for a Rhône-styled wine here. The spiciness, acidity and body of the Grenache do well to offset a Flintstone sized turkey leg. Grenache is often blended with other varietals due to its characteristically low levels of acidity but can be found as a straight up varietal. WineCollective has recently enjoyed a single varietal Grenache, Grenache/Carignan combinations (which is a little less traditional), but you can also look for a quality traditional French Grenache/Syrah blend from the southern Rhône.
Gewürztraminer – The default white wine for many at Thanksgiving is Chardonnay, and while there is nothing wrong with a good Chard (I’d recommend unoaked for a big feast), my favourite white at Thanksgiving is a Gewürztraminer from Alsace (France). If you haven’t had the chance to experience a traditional Gewürz with a bit of residual sweetness there is no better time to take the leap. They have such huge versatility you could serve one before the meal with appetizers or even use it after the meal to replace port.
Pinot Noir – Most quality Pinot Noirs have extreme versatility, drinking well on their own or pairing with a diverse range of food. A new world Pinot from New Zealand or Oregon may be more fruit forward than a Burgundy example, but should also have soft and approachable tannins. Avoid “huge” wines with alcohol levels of greater than 14% simply because they are a bit trickier to pair. A Pinot would pair beautifully with anything from fowl (goose, duck, and turkey) to fish (salmon) to a hearty vegetable dish.
Albarino – Darkhorse call here. Albarino (a white grape) is a relatively rare varietal which is grown in Spain. It is very distinctive and one of the hottest varietals in Europe right now. Spain consumes so much of the stuff we are hard pressed to get any exported. An Albarino would pair well with an appetizer or salad course, but could be used with fowl in a pinch.
Sparkles! – There are many options here. Do you go with name brand Champagne from France, or try to get Champagne quality from other regions in France (Blanquette de Limoux for example) or go with a Cava or Prosecco? I’m going to suggest none of the above (although all are good choices). Try going to a major French Champagne house that has property in the United States. A couple of examples are Mumm or Louis Roederer (makers of Cristal). Grab one of their US based sparkling wines and enjoy the production techniques of French Champagne at a fraction of the price. Everyone will be happy to see you at a party come New Year’s Eve!
Don’t let this list limit you, there are other pairings that will work, Bordeaux, single varietal Merlot, an Italian red-blend featuring Barbera and of course Cabernet Sauvignons. There is really no wrong answer, wine is as subjective as the individuals that are experiencing it. 🙂