14 Christmas Wines to Pair with Any Holiday Feast

Posted by: samy December 18, 2012 No Comments
Does this look like we’re stressed about which wines to serve on Christmas?

Someone asked us the other day what wines we plan to serve on Christmas.  Honestly, we hadn’t yet had a chance to think about it.

We generally don’t get too stressed these days about making sure we’ve got the absolute perfect wine pairings to match our holiday feasts. There’s such a mish- mash of flavours and textures it’s nearly impossible to find one wine that will hit the high notes with everything on the table, so we generally put out a few food friendly wines, and let the cards fall where they may.

However, that doesn’t mean any old thing will do; you can take the broad brush strokes of your dinner theme, and pick up some wines that should be a decent enough pairing.

We’ve listed a few of what seems to be the more popular Christmas menus here and offered a red and white pairing that should work well.

When researching this blog, it was fascinating to see the multitude of dishes people around the world prepare for their feasts. There was no way we could list them all, but we’d love to know what you make for your Christmas dinner – let us know in the comments below!

Christmas Eve Feast of Seven Fishes

For those of you celebrating December 24th with a smorgasbord of seafood, you know you’re in for the long haul. From what we’ve seen, courses can go beyond the basic seven, and push upwards of ten and even 13 plates of seafood, pasta and veggies and dessert.

Again, with all that food trying to pick the perfect wine will make you want to hang yourself by the chimney with care, but a Sauvignon Blanc with its zippy acidity compliment most seafoods, whether grilled prawns, raw oysters or fried calamari.  As for reds, you may want to consider rosé. Deeper red wines can make the seafood taste metallic, but blush wines will have the acidity and structure to bring out the best in the dish.

  • Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand 2013 $18.95 LCBO 308288
  • 13th Street “Cuvee Rosé,” VQA Niagara Peninsula NV $24.95 Vintages 147504

Traditional Turkey

Bird is the word at Christmas in the North America and the United Kingdom. We couldn’t find any stats for Canada, but apparently 22 million turkeys are on holiday tables in the US, while in the UK, 10 million turkeys are the stuff British feasts are made of.

Classic pairings for a traditional turkey dinner, complete with all the fixings of cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and stuffing would be fruity wines with little oak.

  • Burrowing Owl Chardonnay, VQA Okanagan Valley, BC 2012 $33.95 Vintages 208694
  • Hiver Festif Juliénas, Beaujolais, France $17.95 Vintages 390492

Your Goose Is Cooked

Photo courtesy of thegoosefarm.com

Do you know that in 1588 Queen Elizabeth I made it an offence to eat any bird other than goose on Christmas Day?  It’s tough to know how many country peasants followed Liz’s command as goose was an expensive treat typically only the very rich enjoyed. But good on her for being in touch with her people.

Even today goose is more expensive and less plentiful than turkey, and the word from a few foodie friends who’ve tried to tackle the beast is that it’s not the easiest bird to prepare. If it’s front and centre on your Christmas buffet, the rich, dense, flavourful meat should pair nicely with a dry Riesling to cut through the fat and offer a bit of fruity sweetness, or for reds opt for something with good structure and acidic balance like tempranillo or even barolo if you’re feeling flush.

  • Charles Baker “Piccone Vineyard” Riesling, VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara 2011 $25.20 Vintages 241182
  • Marqués de Murrieta Finca Ygay Reserva, Rioja, Spain 2008 $27.95 Vintages 209148

A Canadian Christmas Eve Tourtière

Image courtesy of Ontario Pork

This tasty Québécois pork pie is the classic centre piece of Christmas Eve. Traditionally made with minced pork and spices, the savoury pies can also contain beef, duck or game meats.

Each Tourtière is unique to the household from which it comes, to try and peg it down to one recipe is like saying there is only one right lasagna recipe for all the Nonnas out there.  In fact, we have one friend with French roots who has a family “Tort Off” every December 24th.

However, the one thing these Torts usually have in common is that they are rich, earthy, and utterly delicious. To stand up to the spice and fat you’ll want a flavourful, fruity wine with a strong backbone of acidity.

  • Jackson-Triggs “Entourage” Grand Reserve Sparkling Brut, VQA Niagara Peninsula 2011 $22.95 Vintages 234161
  • Josef Chromy “Pepik” Pinot Noir, Tasmania, Australia 2012 $22.95 Vintages 162990

Classic Christmas Roast Beef

For those a little tired of turkey, roast beef seems to be the meat of the day as it’s elegant and reasonably easy to prepare for a large crowd. Throw in a few Yorkshire puddings and Bob’s your uncle.

As it is a very special occasion, and prime rib roast or roast tenderloin is a bit of a high brow meal, we’re keeping with the theme and suggesting a juicy, earthy and elegant red Bordeaux.  White wines are tricky, but not impossible, so again go after full bodied whites to texturally match the weight of the dish.
  • Hidden Bench Chardonnay, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara, 2012 $28.95 Vintages 68817
  • Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California, 2012 $33.95 Vintages 186171

The Just Desserts

Here anything goes: when we were looking up traditional Christmas desserts the range is far and wide. From traditional Yule Logs and Puddings, to Panettone and English Trifles, there doesn’t seem to be one go-to Christmas dessert.  Nor should there be, we suppose, as we don’t want to get all Elizabeth I on you (see Goose for an explanation).

Remember to pair a wine that is sweeter than the food and for the most part you’re home free. For darker, richer, boozy desserts that have chocolate, roasted nuts, dried fruits and the like try fortified wines or Icewine to bring out the best in both.

  • Henry of Pelham Cabernet Icewine 200 ml., VQA Niagara Peninsula, $39.95 Vintages 672402
  • Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Tawny Port, Portugal, $34.95 Vintages 121749

For lighter desserts like fruit trifles or crème brûlée try a fruity sparkling wine like Moscato d’Asti or a late harvest wine.

  • Peller Estates “Ice Cuvée Rosé” Sparkling, VQA Niagara Peninsula, $34.95 Vintages 113035
  • Cave Spring “Indian Summer Select” Late Harvest Riesling 375 ml., VQA Niagara Peninsula 2012 $24.95 Vintages 415901

Leave a Reply

Enter your details to download the FREE copy