Planning your holiday meals? Impress your guests and ensure they get the most out of each dish with our expert guide to holiday food and wine pairing!
It’s our favorite time of year—the time of celebration, gathering, love, and plenty of delicious food and incredible beverages! Especially after the year we’ve all had, we deserve the best when it comes to our menus for the holidays. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for Thanksgiving and other winter holidays. It’s time to take advantage of being homebound by really delving into the world of food and beverage pairing.
Today we’ll discuss some of the best partnerships when it comes to holiday foods and their wine matchups. Discover the magic of the holidays with our expert holiday food and wine pairing guide. You won’t want to miss these tips—read on!
3 Key Pairing Tips
If you’re trying to sound like a sommelier this Thanksgiving, then you’ll need to understand acidity. This is one of the key aspects to look out for when it comes to pairing and comprehending why one wine may not work with a specific food. We have a previous blog explaining how a wine’s acidity affects its flavor, and that should give you a base understanding.
In general, you want to choose a wine that has enough acidity to match the acidity in the food.
Match Your Sweetness and Intensity
Similarly, when it comes to the sweetness of the wine, and in regard to the overall intensity of it, you’ll want to match it equally with the food. If all you think about during the holidays is dessert, then order a variety of sweet wines to go with it (Tawny Port, Sherry, or Ice Wine, for example).
When it comes to flavorful dishes, pick a wine that can handle that intensity. If it’s a flavorful piece of meat, then a Zinfandel will match.
Think About Ingredients
Another great tip for our holiday food and wine pairing guide deals with the ingredients in both the wine and the food. Specifically, pair wines with ingredients that grow in the same region—what grows together, goes together, especially regarding specific flavor profiles. Take a look at where your wine comes from, and see if that helps you pair!
Our Favorite Matches
Now comes the good stuff—the actual pairings! We’ve laid out some of the staples on the holiday table. These should provide you with a good start on pairing for any other intricacies you may have. Take a look!
Depending on the meat you have, you’ll either want heavy tannins or light and acidic. Red meats often pair best with tannins, and dishes with chicken or turkey often go a bit better with lighter whites.
Ham pairs with Zinfandel or Rosé
Ham has a particular sweet-and-salty richness to it, so you want to pair it with wines that have a touch of sweetness, bold flavors, and plenty of acidity. If you want a red, go with Zinfandel. If that’s too heavy, go for almost any Rosé.
Turkey pairs with Dry Riesling or Pinot Noir
There are actually quite a few wines that pair well with turkey. We like how Dry Rieslings mesh with the flavor of the meat and how Pinot Noir is on the same level without overwhelming. Both are solid options if you lather on gravy as well.
Many people are potato lovers come the holidays, so we made sure to list a few different options. Remember the tips from above if your family’s potato choice isn’t listed below.
Mashed Potatoes pair with Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon
Good ol’ mashed potatoes! Whether you leave the skins on or get them nice, creamy, and lump-free, an oaked, dry Chardonnay will mesh beautifully. If you want to stick on the red train, go for a rich Cab.
Roasted Potatoes pairs with Sauvignon Blanc or Zinfandel
The spices you put on the potatoes will determine which bottle will work best for this pairing. If you’re going for simple Italian seasonings, then the Sauvignon Blanc will partner well. If you’re making the roasted potatoes a bit richer with some sort of gravy, then opt for Zinfandel.
Sweet Potatoes pairs with Chardonnay or Beaujolais
When it comes to sweet potatoes, stay away from very dry or light wines, as those could end up tasting thin and bland in comparison to the bursting flavors of sweet potatoes. Instead, go for an oaked Chardonnay or a fruit-forward Beaujolais.
We know—there are so many sides to choose from for the holidays. If we couldn’t include your favorites, don’t fret. These four options should give you a good idea of what to pair.
Stuffing pairs with Gewurztraminer or Merlot
Stuffing—some people love it, and some people hate it. Either way, when paired with a drier Gewurztraminer (rather than sweet), you’ll get the most out of both flavor profiles. If you’d prefer to pour a red glass, go for a friendly Merlot—it’s fruity, mellow, and uncomplicated.
Green Bean Casserole pairs with Riesling or Pinot Noir
Pick up a bottle of medium-dry Riesling to mesh with the cream of mushroom in the dish. Of course, Pinot Noir is a sound red option if that’s the route you want to take. Pick a fruit-forward option for the best pair.
Mac & Cheese pairs with Chablis or Lambrusco
Need your noodles for the holidays? Grab a Lambrusco—the Italian sparkler that will mesh beautifully with baked, cheesy noodles. Or, if you’d prefer something white and light, choose Chablis, the more acidic sister of Chardonnay.
Cranberry Sauce pairs with Blanc de Noirs or Pinot Noir
What to do with the consistently debated side of Thanksgiving, cranberry sauce? Whether you plop it out of the can or make a more exquisite dish, there’s something to love about either, depending on how you pair it. Blanc de Noirs is a white Champagne made from the juice of black-skinned grapes. Its strawberry, white currant, and white raspberry flavors will accentuate cranberry flavors. Or you can play it safe with Pinot Noir.
If you remember the tip from above, then your sweet pairings will go well—pair sweet with sweet. We laid out a few starter examples below.
Pies pair with Late-Harvest Riesling and Tawny Port
We know—there are so many different types of pie out there! But in general, sweet pairs with sweet, so we suggest playing it safe with something like a Late-Harvest Riesling. Sweet as can be! Or if you’re a pecan pie lover, go with the nuttier Tawny Port.
Hopefully, our guide to holiday wine and food pairing gave you the start you need for a successful holiday season. For all your wine needs, turn to Wines ‘Til Sold Out. We’ll deliver the wine right to your door. From high-end red wine to scrumptious sparklers, we want to ensure that you have what you need. Shop our collections now, and you’ll be sure to impress your guests!