Christmas Dinner Wine


You may feel like you have just cleaned up Thanksgiving dishes but before you know it, Christmas dinner will be on the table! If you are assigned to bring wine, keep reading!

The only real requirement for pairing wine, in my opinion, is to drink what you like. Of course, when you’re in charge of choosing for many people with a vast array of food, it can be difficult to figure out the wine to satisfy everyone. The best way to ensure happiness is to choose wine that pleases many palettes. A decent solution is wine that hits in the middle – medium acid, medium tannins, medium body.

If you would like some guidance, consider these styles options ranging from light to heavy depending on your menu:

Rosé – a light bodied, off-dry to dry wine that can vary depending on grape variety and production. Rosé pairs well with the plentiful lineup of holiday accompaniments, but probably a bit delicate for beef or lamb.

Gamay – you may have heard this grape variety cropping up at Thanksgiving tables under the name “Beaujolais Nouveau.” It is fruit filled with huckleberry, raspberry, violet and maybe even banana. If you want quality, look for Gamay from a designated Beaujolais Cru: Brouilly, Chénas, Cóte De Brouilly, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-Á-Vent or Régnié.

Pinot Noir – cool climate Pinot Noir is the way to go. It will be leaner and pair well with many foods. Oregon has exceptional Pinot Noirs but pass on the “jammy” ones. Look for medium bodied, low to medium tannin, medium acid Pinot Noirs where you’ll find flavors such as cranberry, clove and mushroom.

Barbera – I’m a big fan. It pairs well with a myriad of foods, is enjoyable on it’s own and pleasing to many. You’ll find flavors like sour cherry, licorice, blackberry, and dried herbs. Italy is it’s greatest producer. Look for Barbera d’Alba, Barbera d’Asti or Barbera del Monferrato.

Cabernet Sauvignon – This is a classic wine for good reason.  It is full bodied, elegant and can pair nicely with beef and lamb.  Flavors of black cherry, black currant, blackberry, tobacco, and black pepper will make this wine the perfect accompaniment for the heartier fare.

Now go out there and enjoy your holiday…and please, drink responsibly!


Almost But Not Quite

My husband brought me a couple bottles of Pinot Noir back from a recent trip he took to Vancouver, British Columbia.  And if you’re thinking it, you’re right…..he is a good man.

I have to say, I’ve not heard much hype about Pinot Noirs from Canada (or any for that matter) but was hopeful as I’ve tasted a few good wines from our northern friends and a spectacular Merlot not so long ago.

I opened the first of two bottles – a screw cap which I love.  I think all wineries should switch to this method. Of course, that would eliminate any reason to pull out the snappy wine openers we love to use (my favorite is a “Laguiole” corkscrew made of olive wood). The wine, 2008 Road 13 Pinot Noir, and I couldn’t wait to try it.  I was intrigued by the description on the bottle.  It said “This light colored, light bodied wine has a silky texture and pleasing complexity…Pinot Noir, not Merlot under a Pinot Noir label.”

I definitely noticed the beautiful pale, red color but the aroma was unspectacular and the taste about the same.  I did not taste any of the complexity the description referred to but that could be because it needed more time in the bottle.  While looking for words to describe it, I came up empty  – it was uninspiring, flat and unpleasing.  The first time I drank it, I woke up with a headache – something that really doesn’t happen to me when I drink wine.  I wrote it off as a coincidence but the second night, I poured a glass with dinner and woke up with yet another headache.  I ended up tossing the rest of the bottle which is a rare event in my world.

I am not going to say the good folks of Road 13 do not make good wine.  Maybe they do but this particular tasting has made me a little more skeptical about that second bottle of Canadian Pinot Noir sitting in my wine cellar.