The year-end holiday season comes with all sorts of details to juggle – holiday decorations, endless Christmas music no matter where you go, festivities to attend, packages to ship and shopping deadlines that loom far sooner than most of us are prepared for. And then there are the recommendations. People who aren’t particularly into wine of course turn to people who are, begging for holiday recommendations. Whether hosting a dinner or attending a party, everyone needs at least one wine (and often many) to serve or offer as a gift during the season. Fear not – I’m here to help.
There are two things to keep in mind when getting wine for the holidays. First, remember that almost every holiday meal and holiday party features a huge array of foods. There is seldom a single theme or menu for which a single wine is the perfect choice. The second thing to keep in mind is that everyone has different tastes, and you’ll never be able to please every palate.
There are many different wines of course, but when it comes to pairing wine and food, we can make two categories – high-risk pairings and low-risk pairings. High-risk wines can be delicious and fascinating, but they have some of the elements that can make them less flexible in pairing with food. Those elements are high alcohol (disastrous with spicy foods!) or lots of tannin (a bitter element that isn’t happy with lightly seasoned foods – salt can help here; salt makes wine taste less bitter).
Low-risk options are, as you might expect, wines that have little tannin and (relatively) low alcohol. They can also have crisp acidity since food often makes these wines taste more fruity. Some good white wines in this group are riesling, chardonnay not aged in oak (oak means tannin) and sauvignon blanc. Reds that fall into the low-risk group include Beaujolais, many Côte-du-Rhônes, those lovely northern Italian wines made from the barbera grape and many pinot noirs. And of course, if you are dying for a high alcohol, high tannin cabernet sauvignon or syrah, go for it. And remember, dry sparkling wine like Champagne, Cava and Brut Prosecco all go with an enormous range of cuisines and are always a welcome gift. In fact, take two wines – one that fits in the low-risk category that will likely go with whatever your recipient cooks up, and one that truly reflects what you love to drink. This way, you are giving out of passion and giving a gift of love. And isn’t that what the holidays are about?
Cheers, from all of us at VeritageMiami.