Serving the right wine has the power to enhance an already great Christmas. Just as you have many options when putting together your Christmas feast, you also have an abundance of delectable wines from which to choose. Serve your family and friends the right wines to complement the food you serve for a tasteful and satisfying Christmas dinner experience.
Red or White?
The first question that comes to mind when deciding on wine options is whether you should serve a red or white wine. The answer to this question rests on these two variables:
What are you serving at dinner that would pair well with wine?
What would your guests want the most?
It is a common belief that red wines are best served with beef and white wines are best served with poultry, but that is not always the case. The real question you should ask yourself is which varieties of red or white wines will go well with the meal you are serving.
Even though popular opinion claims that poultry is best served with white wines, consider serving a red wine to complement the rich, roasted flavor of a Christmas turkey or duck. If you are serving the roasted bird with rich and Savory sides, consider pairing it with a Zinfandel, Pinot Noir or even Red Burgundy wines. If you prefer white wines, Sauvignon Blanc is excellent with a roasted bird and Savory sides. If you are serving a fruit-flavored garnish with roasted duck, lighter white wines are always the best choice. Sauternes and Riesling wines complement roasted duck with fruit excellently.
It is more difficult to find a white wine to go with roast beef or ribs, so keep it simple with the right red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Malbec wines all work well with red meat. Serving ham gives you a few more options. Serve a honeyed ham with Alsatian Riesling white wine to contrast the sweetness of the ham. Lighter red wines such as Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Beaujolais also work well with ham.
Of course, none of this really matters if you know your guests prefer a particular kind of wine. While that specific wine may not pair the best with the meats or veggies you’re serving, it’s still best to give your guests what you know they’ll want.
Choosing the Brand and Retailer
Since it is a special occasion, you want to choose the best wine to serve your guests without breaking your budget. You do not have to purchase an expensive wine for your Christmas dinner, just one that is sure to please your guests. Only serve a fine wine if you have the equipment to store it properly until it is time for the feast. If you purchase a fine wine ahead of time and just pop it in the fridge with the rest of your food, you might as well have just gone with a mid-range brand.
In general, it may be wise to avoid buying your Christmas wines at the grocery store. Go to a wine store to speak with a knowledgeable sales person. A sales person is able to assist you with finding the right wines for your Christmas dinner if you have not decided before you go to the store. Make sure that the store you choose is clean and stores its wines properly to ensure the best quality for your guests.
Dessert and After-Dinner Wines
As a rule, purchase a sweet wine to serve with your dessert. Muscat and Sauternes go well with Christmas pudding, pumpkin pie and other seasonal desserts. Serve chocolate desserts with Madeira or a Port wine. Make sure you serve the dessert wine in the right type of glass, otherwise your dessert may take a backseat to the wine. A dessert wine glass are typically smaller to help accentuate the rich aromas and flavors without overwhelming your palate.
To keep your guests happy after both dinner and dessert, try serving wine after dinner as well. Choose a tawny or Late Bottle Vintage port to serve after the meal. These wines provide rich flavors that work great with a variety of cheeses for an after-dinner wine and snack. If you want your Christmas feast to end with a late-night party, provide some champagne for the guests.
Enjoy the Party!
By following the general guidelines above, you are guaranteed to host the best Christmas dinner in town. By providing your guests with a variety of wines that pair well with the meal and desserts you are serving, you give them an opportunity to fully appreciate both the meal and the wine. Serving more than one main course is a great way to provide a number of dinner and wine options for your guests.
By Jeff Flowers, Wine Cooler Direct