As our team at Sip & Savor continues to prepare our wine advent calendars and holiday table wine subscription, it only seemed fitting that we laid out our favorite holiday wines and what they should be paired with.
The next few weeks will be full of families from around the world gathering around a table to share holiday meals. From Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving to Christmas Dinner and Festivus, many laughs will be shared and memories made.
And a bottle of wine is a perfect accompaniment to any gathering.
While sparkling cider is an easy choice for the kids, finding the right wine for Thanksgiving can be a little trickier. Every family and friends group have their own traditions and meal staples when it comes to this holiday.
Typically, there are four main components to any Thanksgiving dinner:
- Main Dish (turkey, ham, tofurky)
- Dry Spices (cinnamon or clove)
- Roasted Dishes (oven-prepared)
- Winter Fruits & Vegetables (potatoes, onion, cranberry, squash, etc.)
The difficult part about pairing wine with a dinner like this is each food actually eliminates certain wines. Below are several wine varietals that can go with a variety of palates.
Barbera is a red Italian wine that is known for deep color, full body, low tannins, and high levels of acidity. This lends itself well to Thanksgiving meals that don’t use turkey as the main dish. Barbera wines go great with things like roast beef, venison, and roasted pork.
The main flavors of red Zinfandel varietals cranberry, cherry, blueberry, jam, boysenberry, licorice, plum, and black pepper. These wines often explode with candied fruitiness followed by spice and often a smoky finish. Because of these attributes, Zinfandels are good with the classic Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, cranberry, and dishes with dry spices.
Lambrusco varietals are often very sweet but can be dry depending on the region where it’s from. Overall, Lambrusco is strong on berries like blackberry, boysenberry, raspberry, and strawberry as well as dark cherry flavors. All of these characteristics make it one of the better wines to pair with turkey.
Pinot noir is a dry red wine, light- to medium-bodied, with bright acidity and silky tannins. The finest varietals have complex flavors that include cherry, mushroom, and forest floor. These profiles make it a perfect pairing with turkey, chicken, and other light-protein options.
With Amarone wines, you can expect bold aromas of cherry, black fig, carob, cinnamon, and plum. It often has medium to high acidity and flavors of black cherry, brown sugar, and chocolate. All these characteristics make it a nice pairing with turkey or ham and perfect for dishes with dry spices.
If you’re serving tofurky this season, a nice Cabernet Franc will pair perfectly with the flavor of your baste. These wines are generally softer in nature and have great red fruit, herbal, earthy, and vegetal notes to enhance your dish.
Christmas meals share some of the same flavors and meats from Thanksgiving. Many of the main dishes include:
- Ham, Turkey, or Roast Beef
- Winter Vegetables
- Roasted Sides
As we’ve already touched on many of the wines that go with Turkey, we’ll focus on the varietals that pair nicely with meals centered around roast beef and ham.
Carménère wine has a deep red color and aromas of red fruits, spices, and berries. It tends to have gentler tannins that are softer than those is Cabernet Sauvignon. This medium-bodied Chilean wine is a great pairing for roast beef dinners.
From Cabernet Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignons to Cabernet Francs, these wines offer great character and depth. They’re often accompanied by aromas of black and red fruits infused with bell pepper and oak fragrances. They do have a broad range of flavors that include blackberry, cherry, plum, and red berries. They can also have hints of cedar, coconut, tobacco, and vanilla. Because of all this, it is another great pairing for meals centered around roast beef.
Rosé wines are a great complement to ham due to their primary flavors of red fruit, flowers, citrus, and melon. Any meal that is heavy in salt will work tremendously with any sparkling wine, but a bubbly rosé is always a fantastic choice.
If you smoke your ham for Christmas dinner, Grenache (or Pinot Noir) is a perfect choice to pair with. Grenache is on the lighter side of red wines which means it won’t overwhelm the tasty of your savory meal. They are generally spicy, berry-flavored wines that are soft on the palate.
We can’t forget about dessert! Port wine is the perfect choice to go along with dessert because of its inherent richness. It is a sweet wine with flavors of raspberry, blackberry, caramel, cinnamon, and chocolate sauce.
Make your holiday meals delicious and unforgettable this year by pairing them with the perfect wines. If you’re looking for several options, take advantage of Sip & Savor’s wine subscription! Our current theme, Holiday Table, will supply you with six exclusive wines handpicked by our sommelier. Need more? We offer flexible add-on options, so you’re never left without the perfect wine pairing.