With the holidays just around the corner, many of us are planning menus, shopping for groceries and ordering centerpieces. Choosing wines to pair with traditional holiday foods is an important part of the menu planning process. If you're roasting a turkey to serve with all the trimmings or dishing up a flavorful ham, you might wonder which wines work best with your menu selections. IntoWine.com asked some wine experts for their red and white pairing recommendations.
Wine expert and social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk, the man behind Wine Library TV, offers several choices for your holiday table. Beginning with white wines, Vaynerchuk suggests, "2007 Studert Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese - $18; Riesling is your friend at the holiday table! Many people are scared of Riesling because they think it's going to be too sweet, but there's another factor that balances it out - acidity. The Studert Prum is a serious Riesling from Germany and a monster food pairing wine. And a touch of sweetness (like in this wine) will help with a dry turkey...or is a delicious wine to drink by itself."
Turning to reds, Vaynerchuk recommends either a Zinfandel or a Pinot Noir for your turkey dinner. "2007 Neyers Zinfandel High Valley - $25; There's nothing more Americana than Zinfandel with turkey on Thanksgiving," says Vaynerchuk. "The Neyers has seriously delicious fruit (raspberry, strawberry), nice balance, and a great finish. It's a wine that both wine newbies and wine nerds will love."
On the Pinot Noir side, Vaynerchuk suggests, "2008 Coleman Nicole Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Champlain Creek - $38; Pinot Noir is another amazing food pairing wine for Turkey Day and this wine rocks it. With bright cherry fruit, nice spicy notes of cinnamon and cloves, as well some acidity, this Californian Pinot will pair well with anything from the cranberry sauce to the bird to the squash."
Stacy Slinkard, About.com's Guide to Wine and certified Sommelier, suggests choosing varietals that pair well with a wide range of foods.
Slinkard says, "My two favorite wine varietals for Thanksgiving and Christmas are hands-down Sauvignon Blanc with its lively acidity and often earthy, herbal aromas (that will pick up the herbs in traditional turkey and stuffing preparation) and Pinot Noir for my holiday red wine pairing partner. Pinot Noir plays so well with a wide variety of proteins, seasonings and sauces and can handle a roasted or fried turkey or baked ham with all of the fixings exceptionally well."
Slinkard offers holiday recommendations for both Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. "For a solid value Sauvignon Blanc," she says, "consider the 2008 Frei Brothers Sauvignon Blanc at $12 per bottle or turn it up a bit and go for St. Supéry's 2009 Sauvignon Blanc at $18 a bottle." She adds, "For Pinot Noir, a consistent value (which is hard to find in itself) is the 2008 Mark West Pinot Noir at $10 a pop or go up to the next pricing tier and part with $17 a bottle for the 2008 Pine Ridge "Forefront" Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley. If people are interested in going to the $30 price mark for Pinot Noir, then Etude's Carneros Pinot Noir is a delicious delight from start to finish."