A Food and Wine Pairing Guide To Get You Through The Holidays
Here in California, we do things a little differently, and that includes our holiday celebrations.
If the weather is cooperating, we might pull out our grill in winter. If the olive oil harvest is exceptional, we’ll pour some olio nuovo on our Thanksgiving spread. Or, if the season starts early enough, we’ll have Dungeness crab at Christmas.
We like to celebrate all aspects of the Golden State, and we do so this time of year – be it a wine country inspired table or a beachside gathering. But one thing that’s always sure to be on the table? An assortment of California wines. Because nothing compliments a special occasion like festive wines on your table. Read on to learn about pairing wine with holiday fare.
What are the key elements associated with wine and food pairing?
Our biggest advice for pairing wine and food is to think of wine as an ingredient – one who’s main role is to elevate the food.
Start by identifying the primary elements in the dish (fat, acid, salty, sweet, spicy, or bitter) and search for a wine that will provide balance.
For example, a rich and salty dish like this Mac and Cheese with Fresh Peas, Cauliflower and Toasted Garlic Breadcrumbs, goes with a Chardonnay because it has enough body and acidity to balance it.
What are the main principles one should follow when matching food and wine?
The classic pairing adage is that fish goes with white wines and meats with red wines. While there is some truth to that, feel free to get much more creative with your pairings.
Keep in mind that all wines bring some element of acid, alcohol, body, sweetness, and, in the case of red wines, tannin. You generally want your wine to have more acid and sweetness than the food you’re pairing it with and for it to have a similar intensity.
Holiday Dinners Course by Course
Now that you have the lay of the land, here are some holiday dinner recipe ideas, along with some suggested pairings.
We’re always game for winter salads, and the sweet-tart flavors and crunch of this Winter Beet and Citrus Salad with Dates and Almonds add a refreshing contrast to heavier mains. Serve it with sparkling wine or Chardonnay.
Serve it as a vegetarian main or a side; this Focaccia Bread Pudding with Wild Mushrooms and Goat Cheese can do it all. It also goes just as well with Chardonnay as it does Pinot Noir.
If you serve a big spread, you might want to finish the meal on a lighter note. Serve these White Wine Poached Pears Stuffed with Chocolate, Dried Plums and Hazelnuts along with sparkling wine or dessert wine.