Pairing common holiday foods with great wines
By Rebecca Peterson, Humour Editor
To get the cliché out of the way: It’s that time of year again. December is a month of dinner parties and family gatherings, with food and drink provided in (hopefully) feast-sized quantities. It’s never polite to show up empty-handed, and a nice bottle of wine doesn’t have to be crazy expensive to be the perfect gift for a co-worker or family member (though you might want to check to make sure they actually like wine, first). Listed below are common holiday foods for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, as well as some fantastic wine choices to pair with them.
Christmas, to me, is a time for three different meats: Turkey, ham, and roast beef. The dinners are big and hearty, and leave you full to bursting. The wine should complement the flavours of the meal without overpowering it.
Turkey is versatile. Personally, I would pair it with a white, like a Sauvignon Blanc—it’s crisp and refreshing, without the oakiness of a Chardonnay. However, many swear by red and “white” Zinfandels (the white Zinfandel being more of a rosé, both in colour and taste). Unlike other reds, the red Zinfandel is light enough to match with the turkey without being overpowering it with its fruity or peppery flavours. Zinfandels also pair well with ham, and as the two meats are often served together in traditional Christmas dinners, a Zinfandel might be a good choice if you aren’t sure of the fare.
Roast beef is another matter altogether. Cabernet Sauvignon is always a safe choice for beef, though if you want to upscale to something a little more robust you could bring in a Bordeaux.
Suggestions: Sawmill Creek – White Zinfandel ($7.49), Sandhill – Sauvignon Blanc Hidden Terrace 2014 ($15.99), Moon Curser – Border Vines 2013 ($21.69), Inniskillin – Okanagan Series Zinfandel 2014 ($22.99)
There are many traditional foods that get tied into the Hanukkah season: Latkes, Sufganiyah, Kugel, and beef brisket, for example. A lot of these foods are fried in oil, so you want to keep your wine choices light to match. Latkes, which are delicious pan-fried potato pancakes, are said to pair well with sparkling wines like Prosecco, or light whites such as Chenin Blanc or Viognier. The beef brisket can be paired with a Zinfandel or a Merlot to tie in some of the other flavours from the meal. The main challenge, of course, is finding wine that is kosher. Luckily, BC Liquor Stores account for the need for kosher wines. The following selections are kosher wines that can be found in BC Liquor Stores or online.
Suggestions: Deccolio – Prosecco Extra Dry ($19.99), Galil Mountain Kosher – Viognier ($16.99), Teperberg Israeli Kosher – Merlot ($16.49)
Kwanzaa is a holiday that celebrates the African diaspora—as such, there is no set traditional “meal” to go along with it. Many families celebrate with meals that reflect their own heritage. Many of these dishes do have an element of spice to them, however, which helps narrow down wine selections. The trick is finding a wine that complements the spice without competing with it or overpowering it, so like many of the suggestions on this list, you want to keep your choices light and unchallenging. Sweet whites can pair incredibly well with spice, such as Rieslings and Gewürztraminers. Rosé wines can also add an amazing dimension of flavour, and if you’re going with reds, you’re looking at more Zinfandels or Merlots.
Suggestions: See Ya Later Ranch – Riesling 2015 ($16.99), Nk’mip – Rosé 2015 ($17.99), Quail’s Gate – Merlot 2014 ($21.99)