Michael Cook: Pairing wine with your holiday meal

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The holidays are upon us and that means there will soon be a cornucopia of dishes lining the dinner table.

So you may be asking yourself what exactly is the best wine to pair with these dishes? After all, a glass of wine has the ability to enhance the meal and elevate the get-together, making it that much more enjoyable.

All wines are not made alike and you will want to complement your dish with a wine that will pair appropriately with a specific meal. Whether you choose a white, rosé or red wine, as a general rule of thumb, you will want to have a bottle of wine for every three or so guests.

The main principle in wine pairing is that you want to pair like with like. For example, if you are serving spicy barbecue, you would not pair a delicately fresh white wine. Instead, you would be better suited serving a spicy bold red like Tempranillo or Zinfandel.

Here are a few North Texas wine suggestions to complement your holiday meal. Note that some of these wines may only be found at the winery, so this is the perfect opportunity to go on a wine tasting adventure. If it is the night before Christmas, make a wine run to visit your local wine store and peruse the Texas wine aisle where there are many great options.

For breakfast, it is recommended to serve light and refreshing wine-based cocktails such as a mimosa. Choose a dry Champagne or perhaps a sparkling Roussanne.

If you are serving chicken or turkey, there are two options. If the dish is delicately prepared, then you are better served pairing a Sauvignon blanc or un-oaked Chardonnay. Try Arché’s estate-grown Chardonnay, located up near Muenster. If the dish is richer, such as smoked turkey or fried chicken, you could pair an oaked Chardonnay, Pinot noir, or even a smooth and delicate Merlot. Another good choice would be a white wine called Trebbiano (Brushy Creek Winery near Decatur has a very nice offering).

Are you serving ham or other pork dishes? A rich Chardonnay may do nicely for honey baked ham. If the dish has some kick, you may want to try pairing with a Tempranillo, a Syrah, or even Montepulciano. There are many Texas-grown wines that fit the bill.

If you are really celebrating Christmas with a bang by serving steak or prime rib, there are wines that pair well with that. A Bordeaux-style blend from France would be great, or you could go with a locally grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Aglianico, Cabernet Franc or a smooth Merlot. Lost Oak Winery in Burleson produces a very nice Cabernet franc. We typically only pair reds with savory and fatty meats like steak.

Some may be serving fish; delicate flaky fish is best paired with a light, crisp and delicate white wine such as a Sauvignon blanc, un-oaked Chardonnay, Pinot gris or even Roussanne or Vermintino. Again, there are some great local options offered in North Texas. If you are offering a richer fish like salmon, a rich white wine or light Pinot noir would do well. A well-balanced rosé would pair well with almost any fish course.

To round off the night, you will most likely be serving dessert. Don’t forget that a sweet and rich dessert wine will make the evening more enjoyable. A port-style dessert wine is perfect for pairing with chocolate dishes or pecan pie. Messina Hof is known for their port-style wines, so check them out. Lemon tarts or sugar cookies would pair well with a bright Moscato or maybe even a sparkling Prosecco.

Whatever you choose to pair with your meal, make sure to have fun and enjoy the time with family and friends as you celebrate the holiday season. Best of luck and Merry Christmas!


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