(published with permission from Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer)
Food & Wine: You Have A Lot of Wine Pairing Options!
For a few reasons, we here at Co-op have trouble with recommending specific wines to go with individual ingredients. First, we don’t know what you like. What if you dislike oaked Chardonnay, or love Italian wines? That should matter. Secondly, we don’t know exactly how you’re cooking that holiday bird. A myth that has been spread for years is that there is a perfect pairing for your meal. There is not. A food and wine pairing suggestion might be great, but it might not be perfect for a lot of reasons. As a result, food and wine pairing principles are more guidelines than anything else, and the options are many, not singular. There is no need to stress over finding the perfect wine because it doesn’t exist – try and have fun with it. And third, we don’t know who you’re eating with. We assume you want to be a good host, or an appreciative dinner guest, and if your grandmother only likes white, then why would we recommend a heavy red?
Having said all that, we do have a few wine suggestions that will be great with your special upcoming meals regardless if you are serving salmon, turkey, or lamb. But just know that they are not the only options. There are hundreds more. If you get the sense that the wines I suggest are not exactly for you, then here are some tips to increase the chances of you finding that holiday wine pairing that will suit you.
When it comes to pairing food and wine for the holidays, we recommend you get some professional help.
Pretension in the wine retail industry still exists, but thankfully it is more rare than common these days. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help – chances are they’ll be nice and really helpful. Going to a retailer that has professional, courteous staff will almost guarantee that you will get a wine that will suite your needs.
When it comes to choosing holiday wine, before you ask a professional, think about what you like — or what you don’t like — in a wine.
Wine professionals don’t admit this enough, but personal preference is the number one factor with food and wine pairing. There are multiple reasons that a sommelier might recommend a Riesling from Germany to go with turkey, but the biggest one is that they love German Riesling! If can know even a little bit about what kind of wines you like, then you are ahead of the game. When getting help with your wine purchase, if you’re able to tell someone that you want something smooth, or that you hated a bottle of American Cabernet that you had recently, then that will help the retailer immensely in getting you the right wine.
When it comes to wine and food pairings for holiday gatherings, either know your wine crowd or play it safe.
Some flavours and textures are more appealing than others. Unless you know the tastes of your dinner guests, then staying with flavours that are safe is probably a wise way to go. Ask for crowd-pleasing wines with safe flavours and feels. Nothing too bitter, sour, or funky.
Eric Southward’s Holiday Wine Recommendations
Sierra de Malaga, Spain
This wine is stunning. Intensely floral with refreshing flavours of peach and tropical fruits, like pineapple and passion fruit. This is a joint venture between two very skilled winemaking families – the Ordonez family from Spain, and the Kracher family from Austria.
Tahbilk has been around since 1860! Some of their Marsanne vines were planted in 1927, and are some of the oldest on the planet. This wine is so versatile, with a medium-bodied feel, and flavours like lemon curd, and honey.
Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
A white that will not only stand up the richness (and fattiness) of turkey dinner, but it will also bring a nice tang that will cleanse your palate throughout the meal. Flavours of pear and yellow apple are juicy, with a touch of oak. Beautiful wine from one of the Okanagan’s top producers.
Yeah, that’s a mouthful! 13-year old, amazing Riesling! Medium-sweet, with gorgeous flavours of baked pear, chamomile tea and blood orange. The acidity in this wine is still bright, and mouth-watering.
Argentina doesn’t just pump out Malbec! There are some great producers in Argentina making excellent quality Pinot Noir. A very light red from a cool vintage. You’ll find silky notes of cran-raspberry, wild strawberry and spice. This estate is owned by Piero Incisa dela Rocchetta from the famous Sassicaia estate in Italy.
Mathieu and Camille Lapierre have taken over for their father Marcel after he recently passed away. They have done well and kept his ideals, making some of Beaujolais’ best wines as naturally as possible. This red is light, spicy, and loaded with flavours of red cherry. Love this stuff.
From one of our favourite producers in northwestern Italy, Vietti makes awesome wines. Wines made from Dolcetto are smooth, and not too sour. Medium-bodied with flavours of black cherries and blueberries, this wine is very versatile. A touch of minerality on the finish provides an interesting nuance.
Thirsty for more holiday wine suggestions? Check out Top Red Wines for Your Holiday Dinner Party or Top White Wines for your Holiday Dinner Party