Wine Pairings For Christmas Dinner

Here are a few guidelines that'll help you with wine pairings this season.

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December 19, 2016 3 min read

Pair your Christmas dishes with the right wine.
No matter what holiday gatherings you’re attending this year, chances are, you’ll be bringing your hosts a gift. While it would be great if you knew each host’s favorite type of wine – so they can relax and drink it once all the guests have gone home – it’s not likely that you’re that close with all of the people hosting parties this season. If you don’t know the host’s choice of vino, your best bet when choosing a party wine is to bring a variety that pairs well with the dinner you’ll be having.

If your friends and family prefer to have you put that online culinary certificate to good use and cook for the holidays, you’ll also need a hefty supply of wine that goes well with your meal. Here are a few guidelines that’ll help you with wine pairings this season:

For hors d’oeuvres
Chances are, people won’t be arriving in time to immediately sit down for dinner. If all of your guests are mingling and snacking for the first hour or so of the party, they’ll need something to drink along with the charcuterie plate, mini bruschettas and chips and dip. Your best route when choosing a pre-dinner wine is to go with something that’s versatile. Food and Wine suggests a dry rose, due to to the fact that it has the acidity and body of white wine with the fruity flavor of your favorite reds. Keep the alcohol content low as well – you don’t want your guests getting buzzed so early in the evening!

“Wine with a high alcohol content will cause you to slow down while eating.”

Pair with ham
If you don’t want to stray from tradition, you’re probably serving some variety of ham for Christmas dinner. The best rule of thumb to keep in mind is to pair high fat and high acid. Having a high acid wine like a sparkling wine or Riesling is a great way to cut through the fat and lighten the meal. If you prefer reds, choose a Zinfandel or something else that isn’t too dry. In addition, Wine Folly says to take the alcohol content into account when choosing a wine. Drinking a wine with a high alcohol content will cause you to slow down while eating, preventing you from over-indulging in a fatty dish – you’ll have more room for dessert!

Pair with turkey
If you’re not all turkey’d out from Thanksgiving, you may choose to serve turkey for your holiday meal. No matter how you prepare a turkey, though, it’s going to be a bit dry. That’s just how the bird is! The best way to complement the texture of the turkey is to pair it with a sweet wine, in red or white. You don’t want to go with anything too full-bodied either, because the wine will overpower the light flavor of the entree. Wine Folly states that a Lambrusco offers up the right amount of sweetness to go along with the turkey and any sweet side dishes.

For dessert
Generally, pairing wine with a dessert is pretty simple – just match sweetness. However, when a dessert is rich, like a caramel-based dish or some sort of ganache, you’ll want to choose a sweet red. For lighter dishes or something fruity, like a pie, a sweet white would be a better choice. If you’re not sure what your host will be serving for dessert, Serious Eats says that port and champagne go well with any sweet treat.

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