By Karen and Ken Geiszler, Winery-Sage.com —
Welcome to part three of our Holiday Food & Wine Pairing blog feature. Today, the focus is on pairing some of the traditional Holiday Appetizers with wines.
Type “Holiday Main Courses” into Google and you’ll get a pretty typical selection of meats that are commonly served as a main course for Christmas or Hanukkah. However, many of those recipes also decide to get very creative with their ingredients, which makes providing simple food and wine pairing advice rather difficult. They can be simply seasoned and roasted, complimented by sauces that are subtly flavorful or something so overwhelming, you can’t tell if you are eating chicken, beef or fish. Here’s a free piece of advice and even though we are a wine site, pairing food with wine goes hand in hand. Don’t buy a nice piece of meat and then turn it into a mystery meal by covering it in a sauce so overpowering, that you could be eating a piñata and it would still taste the same.
Given the amount of distractions this time of year and my general malaise regarding doing anymore work than is necessary, I did Google “Holiday Main Courses” and came up with a typical list of Holiday main courses, so we’ve decided to offer some updated pairing advice for those dishes.
But first… drum roll please… I’m going to briefly regurgitate the common wine and food pairing advice we always give people. If you want to know why these are important, visit our earlier post that goes into the details. We’ve added a couple others that we’ve come to embrace since our original post came out.
Rule Number One
Never serve a meal that is sweeter than the wine. This can be tough around the holidays but if you really want to have the wine and food accentuate each other’s best traits, avoid the sweet yams and anything with marshmallows and fruit (some of us would argue you should avoid anything with marshmallows and fruit whether you are pairing food and wine or not).
Rule Number Two
Forget the old adage, “Pair white wine with fish and red wine with meat.” It was wrong 30 years ago and guess what; it’s still wrong. That’s only a general rule and it doesn’t take into account meats with different types of flavors and sauces with an even greater array of flavors. There’s as big of a difference between tilapia and salmon as there is between tilapia and ham. A better rule is that you should always pair wine with the sauce accompanying the meat if there is a sauce. If there is no sauce, then meander on down to Rule Number Three.
Rule Number Three
Well…you got here by reading Rule Number Two, which means that you have meat with no sauce. If that’s the case, the basic rule is lightly flavored wines should accompany lightly flavored meats. Strongly flavored wines should accompany strongly flavored meats. Seems pretty simple right? Not coincidentally most commercially available, strongly flavored meats also tend to be fattier meats. There are exceptions of course like most game meats (venison for instance can be quite lean but still strong in flavor). Strong wines with heavy tannins actually enhance the flavor of fatty meats. There’s a long and involved reason for this but trust me when I tell you your steak will taste better if you have a red wine with a healthy amount of tannin in it.
Rule Number Four
Don’t serve acidic wines with cream based sauces. Just trust us…don’t do it. The results aren’t pretty. Acidic wines tend to be the tarter wines like dry Rieslings and many heavier red wines.
Rule Number Five
It’s hard to try and pair wine with side dishes so don’t even try unless you are serving your meal one course at a time. The best you can do is try not to serve any side dishes that will seriously mess with the taste of your wine.
Ok — that’s the condensed version of the food and wine pairing rules. Each of the following posts takes a main course that is commonly served at the Holidays and offers a number of wine suggestions to serve with your Holiday masterpiece.
If you don’t see your Holiday meal listed, drop us a line and we’ll let you know the best wine to pair with it.
Enjoy! — Karen and Ken Geiszler, Winery-Sage.com
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Karen and Ken have now been married for almost 25 years and to date have still not had a fight since being married, probably because Karen has the patience of a saint. They live in the Silicon Valley area but have had a cabin just south of Yosemite, in the Bass lake area, for roughly 13 years. They spend as much time up here as they can. The first 10 years was just relaxation. The last three has been lots of work recovering from damage caused by the Courtney Fire and then continuing on with a remodel. In 2018, they hope to spend as much as a third of their time up at the cabin.
They are now empty-nesters with their older son being married and living in London with his new wife for the next two years, and the younger one living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, getting his PhD in Bioinformatics. From where he got the brains is a complete mystery but the best guess is the dog. They are not sure what they did to drive their kids so far away but the only consolation is that both sons claim to want to move back in the future.