There’s something about a nice bottle of wine that makes a holiday meal feel complete. For most folks, knowledge of wine and food pairings may be slim, so we’ve drawn up a little holiday cheat sheet to help you figure out where to squeeze in that chilled Riesling Aunt Marge brought to dinner. Check out the options below and then tell us your favorite holiday pairings in the comments!
Because of its mild flavor, turkey plays nicely with a wide variety of wines, but the method of preparation or the side dishes you serve with your bird can dictate which wine will pair best with your Thanksgiving meal. If the turkey is prepared with a fruit-based sauce, go with a wine that’s on the sweeter side. A Riesling or fruity Zinfandel will work nicely here. If your turkey is lighter and savory, try a buttery Chardonnay or a semi-dry Pinot Grigio.
Beef calls for a heavier wine to answer to rich flavor. Most reds work well with beef, but you’ll want to pay attention to how your meat is cooked. For example, a rare dish like prime rib pairs well with a younger, full-bodied red like a Merlot, Bordeaux, or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you tend to prefer white over red, choose a lighter red like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.
Holiday hams tend to be glazed, so you’ll want a slightly sweeter wine. Light- to medium-bodied whites and fruity reds work perfectly with ham. For a white wine, choose from Chablis, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, or an unoaked Chardonnay. If you prefer red, go for a Burgundy, Pinot Noir, Merlot, or a young Zinfandel. An off-dry blush or rosé will also pair nicely.
Lamb has a strong flavor and is on the fattier side. You’ll need a robust wine to go with your roast lamb or lamb chops. Go for a Chianti, Rhone red, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, or Pinot Noir.
Not everyone eats meat, so it’s important to think about what wines pair well with veggie-based dishes as well. When it comes to richer holiday foods like potatoes, winter squash, beans, and risotto, you can’t go wrong with a Chardonnay. For grilled vegetables, sweet potatoes, and curry, try a Merlot. For rich, roasted veggies, try a Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon.
You might think any dessert wine will match up with your pie or pudding, but that’s not necessarily the case. Things can get a little too sticky-sweet if you’re not careful. For pumpkin pie, choose a medium to sweet Riesling, Moscato, or a sparkling wine to combat the denseness of the pie. For a sweet, tart apple pie, serve a Grenache or a Blanc. If your apple pie is on the bolder side, try a Port. Pecan pie will pair well with a Madeira.
The Lowcountry’s Own: If you’re still uncertain about what wines to serve with what dish, think about making a trip out to Irvin~House Vineyards on Wadmalaw Island, SC. They offer both self-guided and private tours and tastings of their delicious muscadine wines Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm.