Christmas dinner and wine…what a conundrum!


Holiday dinners such as Christmas or New Years have such a cornucopia of flavours that it is often hard to settle on just one wine.

There is the main staple…turkey! But there is also stuffing, squash, vegetables and the good old dollup of “smashed” potatoes and gravy and whatever other dish one might decide to put on the festive table to make sure no one pushes out their chair without feeling totally sated or bloated.

You don’t want to serve several different wines with several different side dishes. Trust me, for that is not the way to eat. Turkey…sip…Chardonnay…sip…Gewürztraminer…sip…spicy dressing…sip ,sip, sip and sip some more! YIKES!!! You get the idea.

Have one wine, maybe two but that’s it. I hope this makes it simple. My site managers asked me to add a holiday recipe, but I thought it would be of a greater service to you, my loyal readers, to give some suggestions for wine pairings for Christmas. And this is what I came up with. Love ’em or hate ’em, it doesn’t matter. They’re simply suggestions…just give ’em a try. YOU may be surprised!

SIDE DISHES. That is the conundrum!

What can I serve with turkey…that’s easy. It’s the side dishes that can be confusing as to which wine works with both.

Here is my list and apply as you deem fit. My choices are based on grape varietals and their characteristics, not brand names. And, by the way, your taste buds remember the occasion more than the wine! So enjoy your company and whatever wine you decide to choose!

Here are my picks:

#1. Sparkling wines or Champagnes. Probably the most versatile wine on the planet. It’s a palate cleanser like no other. That is why it goes quite well with almost everything. A really good ‘sparkler’ can even appease the beer lover in your family. It will compliment just about anything and it’s very appropriate for any celebration which is what the Holidays are all about.

#2. A Rose or blush.Another completely versatile wine as well. Good Rosés have the characteristics of a light red but can stand up to to the saltiness or spiciness of most dishes, since many of them have a slight sweetness. Serve these if you have any spicy side dishes. They actually work surprisingly well with turkey.

#3. My personal favourite is an Oaked Chardonnay, mainly because it is perfect for the the turkey, but will go well with the ‘smashed potaoes’ and gravy. Creamy wines like creamy foods! Chardonnay works quite well with hearty soups as well.

#4. If you have a lot of vegetables on your plate then give Sauvignon Blanc a try. Sauvignon Blanc is known for it’s acidity and how well it goes with vegetables. And it does!

#5. An off-dry Riesling is also an extremely versatile food wine. Again, it pairs well with the turkey but will pair well with the spiciness of the stuffing if you’re planning on spicy stuffing. Just make sure the wine is a touch sweet.

#6.If you you want to experiment, then try a Gewürztraminer! The heavily herbed dishes, like a flavourful stuffing, will love it. I find it goes well with the turkey but is great for the appetizers as well like flavourful cheeses before dinner.

#7.If I had to pick a red wine with turkey…I would choose a Pinot Noir. Why? Because the tannins are low and the fruitiness is substantial. Unless you’re having red meat cooked on the rarer side like a prime rib then stick to lighter and fruitier reds.

#8. My second choice for a red would be a Gamay. That being a Beaujolais or any other fruity red wine. The key here is to keep the tannins low and the fruitiness high.

#9. An aged or really soft Shiraz (or Syrah) can compliment the turkey, but I’m thinking the dark meat. For those of you tempting our palates with a Prime Rib instead of turkey will appreciate the Shiraz.

#10. And finally, splurge… buy a really good RED Zinfandel. My pick, (and I do not do this very often), is LIBERTY SCHOOL Red Zinfandel from California. A very nice wine for under $20. It is just an all around good wine for sipping, ‘appetizing’ and believe it or not works with the Holiday dishes like stuffing, turkey, potaoes with gravy and any cheese with flavour you can throw at it as well as a great match for those of you doing the ‘Prime Rib’ thing.

If you learned one new thing about wine today…then it was a good day.

Merry Christmas & Bon Appetite!