Pour Decisions: A Guide to Holiday Wine and Food Pairings
Unlike some families who can’t actually agree on anything (except sitting down to a meal together at least one a year), wine and food pairing is actually pretty easy. You just have to remember to pair like with like. So sweet with sweet. Tart with tart. Bold with bold.
Sure, there are exceptions to these rules, like choosing flavors that pleasantly contrast each other. But generally speaking, food and wine are kind like people that have a lot in common — they tend to get along pretty well. So, look for the common ground in your food or wine, like you do with difficult relatives, and you're sure to make a happy memory around the dinner table this Thanksgiving.
Super Tasty Intro.
Super Tuscan is the term used to describe red wines from Tuscany that also include non-indigenous grapes. Because they often include more familiar grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Super T’s have a kind of mass appeal that even newbies can appreciate. With memory inducing aromas of lavender and baking spices, and the combination of French and Italian grapes, this wine is kind of the perfect lead into meaningful conversations about travel (and perhaps even lead to future plans).
The high acidity and tannic nature of Super Tuscan wines mean that salty and high-fat foods will pair well with most Super T blends; and especially so with those that have a high percentage of Sangiovese, like Super Helpful. I mean, who doesn’t love bread covered in melted brie? No joke, this appetizer is a serious crowd pleaser and a great way to kick off a big holiday meal. Cheese and carbs for the win!
It’s All About The Sides.
Side Dish Riesling - $25
Riesling can be a bit of a wild card. Extremely aromatic, this white grape variety produces wines in a whole range of styles; from bone-dry to very sweet. Off-dry (aka kinda sweet) wines like Side Dish, are great for balancing out the spice level on high heat dishes like the ones commonly served in Indian and Asian cuisines. Bone-dry Rieslings are the perfect accompaniment to rich and decadent meals featuring duck, bacon, and crab. However, if you remember rule #1 (pairing like with like) you can’t go wrong pouring sweeter wines with dessert as a luscious way to wrap up your meal.
The combination of miso and butter transforms these carrots into something truly amazing. Ginger, sesame, and carrot-top greens come together to create a delicious pesto that will tantalize your taste buds. The umami quality of the miso used in this recipe is also going to pair perfectly with the aromas, mouthfeel, and slight sweetness of the Side Dish.
Keep It Simple.
Viognier (“Vee-own-yay”) is a full-bodied white wine loved for its perfumed aromas of peach, tangerine and honeysuckle. Viognier ranges in taste from lighter citrusy flavors to creamier aromas of vanilla with spices of nutmeg and clove. The perfect for those who love to stop and smell the flowers.
The trick to pairing foods with Viognier wine is to focus on embellishing and expanding the wine’s core flavors. While also ensuring that the foods you pair with it aren’t overwhelmingly bold or acidic. The fresh sage and salted butter in this recipe keep things savory and compliment the delicate herbal and floral notes of the Viognier.
It’s a little Complicated (pun intended) but when you find the right pairing, we promise it will be well worth the effort.
Dress to Impress.
Pinot Noir is the world’s most popular light-bodied red wine, loved for its red fruit, flower, and spice aromas that are accentuated by a long, smooth finish. It’s also the fine-wine lover’s #1 pick for Thanksgiving, and if we had to pick only two words to describe Oregon Pinot Noir it would be ‘cranberries’ and ‘earth.’
Pinot works well with both dark and white meat turkey and it’s excellent for accentuating cranberry-like flavors. While a heavy red wine will overpower the tart and delicate taste of cranberry, a lighter wine like Pinot Noir is the perfect companion for a cranberry sauce. Check out our blog post featuring the literal best cranberry sauce you have ever tried. Made (of course) with Evoke Winery Dominatrix Pinot Noir.
Hit All The High Notes.
Sangiovese is a pretty sensitive grape to grow, and because of that it tends to take on different stylistic expressions based on where it grows. While not as aromatic as other red wines at your holiday table, Sangiovese often has a flavor profile of bright, red fruit flavors and its subtle savory and vegetal aromas are the key to unlocking its food magic.
Lamb chops are robust in flavor, so it can stand up to strong earthy herbs and spices. In this recipe the shanks are cooked with a prodigious amount of fresh herbs, adding fragrance and body that pairs perfectly with those herbal notes of the Sangiovese. Move over turkey, I think we’ve found ourselves a new headliner.
*Bonus feature, you can braise the shanks several days in advance, then reheat it on the stove on the big day.
Room For Dessert?
Barbera can sometimes be a bit of a conundrum. Due to its pigmentation, it can taste both rich and light-bodied, offering the berry and cherry notes in bigger wines, but goes down like a treat, thanks to lively acidity. Oak-heavy styles have an extra touch of chocolate, vanilla and spice. We’re not saying you have to skip Thanksgiving dessert, but with this wine, it’s definitely possible.
Try matching the flavors of your Barbera wine with the flavors in your sweet dishes to make the pairing pop. Sage, anise, cinnamon, citrus, and nutmeg should all play well with a dessert-course serving of Barbera wine. We like this roasted pear recipe because it’s fresh, cozy, and SO easy to make! The herb-infused honey and rosemary whipped cream harmonize perfectly with the Barbera.
Check out the other foods this wine pairs with over on the blog. We're spilling the tea on Barbera and why it's the best wine for Thanksgiving dinner.
Join us for a virtual wine pairing and cooking event. We’ll be dishing the goods on how to pair wines with these festive and foolproof holiday recipes. Let us take some stress off your plate and help you make your best pour decisions before Turkey Day. Log on and dig in!