Holiday Dinner Wine Pairings

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wine – the perfect complement for holiday meals.  The wine glasses look great on your table, and the wine adds that bit of elegance that helps to make a holiday special.  As the host, a nice glass of wine also helps you to relax briefly between the hours of cooking and the hours of clean-up and has even been known to increase tolerance for visiting in-laws.  As you plan your holiday gathering, following are some suggestions for selecting a wine to complement your meal.  A good wine-food pairing will make both the vino as well as that meal you slaved over taste better- and solidify your position as the host with the most.


A traditional turkey dinner complete with savory stuffing, tart cranberry sauce, rich gravy and more provides a diverse array of flavors to try to match with a wine, but also makes many wines appropriate.

Reds:  Consider lighter, slightly acidic, fruity reds like Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, or Chianti.

Whites:  The acidic Sauvignon Blanc or a dry and slightly sweet Riesling pair well, as does the sweet Gewurztraminer.

Goose or Duck

These birds tend to be fattier than turkey and need a wine that can stand up to this richer taste.

Reds:  Try more robust reds, like Syrah/Shiraz, Tempranillo, or fuller versions of Pinot Noir or Zinfandel.

Whites:  Sauvignon Blanc pairs nicely as does the dry Chardonnay.

Ham, Pork Tenderloin and Crown Roast

A sparkling rosé is a good match for these dishes.  Alternately, try one of the following.

Reds:  A lighter Pinot Noir or Beaujolais complements these meals.

Whites:  A dry Riesling works well with pork, in particular.

Roast Beef, Lamb and Venison

Red meat typically pairs best with robust, red wines.  The proteins in the meat have a smoothing affect on the bold tannins in these wines.  While white wines can also be enjoyable, it’s very difficult to put together a stellar match.

Reds:  Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice.  Merlot or bold Syrah also pair nicely.

For more information on these wines, or for recipe ideas, visit or Keep in mind that wine and food pairing is an art.  Don’t hesitate to experiment with new things and discover your own favorites.

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