With all of the things to consider for the holiday season, let this guide take care of your Christmas dinner wine pairings. It can be difficult trying to figure out which type of wines to choose for the evening with all of the different side dishes you have and their unique flavours. Traditionally, people will pick one red, one white, and perhaps one rose. You do not have to adhere to this rule if your guests lean more to one type over another, but having all three might make it easier to ensure everything has a pairing. Here are some recommendations for common Christmas dinner recipes.
To start off
You should keep your Christmas appetizers and starting drinks light. Make sure your guests have plenty of room for the main event and that they are still able to hold their utensils properly by the time it is served. Save the 15% alcohol by volume (AVB) red for later in the evening.
Smoked salmon canapes – A bubbly or Chenin Blanc
Pick something relatively dry and lower in AVB for this appetizer. A Chenin Blanc or Gewurztraminer works best, though Champagne or Cremant compliments smoked salmon as well.
Pigs in a blanket – Sparkling Rose
This wine will cut through the richness of the buttery dough and also play up the smoky-sweet pork in the middle.
The star of the show is usually different types of meat, but vegetarian and vegan mains are becoming more popular as well. This includes a little bit of everything.
Prime rib – Bordeaux
Something as bold as prime rib should be paired with an equally bold wine. A Cabernet Sauvignon from California will do but, if you really want to step it up for the holidays, a Bordeaux is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Spiral ham – Zinfandel
This dish can be tricky to pair since it can be both salty and sweet. Cut through the fatty sweetness of ham by pairing it with a Zinfandel or Lambrusco. These wines will also have an adequate fruit flavour to them as well.
Roast goose – Red Burgundy
This decadent dish deserves an indulgent wine like a nice red Burgundy. Goose is not as common of a Christmas dish in North America as it is in Britain and Germany, but those that make consider the effort that goes into making it worth it. Goose is notorious for having a lot of fat, but if it is prepared carefully, it can be juicy and delicious. In Germany, they even use it like butter and spread the fat on bread.
Turkey – Pinot Noir
This classic main is light tasting and should be paired with a light wine. A Pinot Noir’s fruity notes and earthy undertones go well with most side dishes as well.
Spinach and gruyere souffle – Gamay
Vegetarians no longer need to be left with just a few side dishes. This main is light and rich at the same time, making a Gamay its perfect pairing. Both omnivores and herbivores will enjoy it alike.
Twice baked butternut squash with cashew cheese and cranberries – Riesling
There are a lot of flavours and textures at play in this vegan main. Butternut squash is both a bit fruity and a bit sweet, making a dry Riesling an excellent choice to balance it out.
Secretly, or not so secretly, most people look forward to holiday dinner sides. There is something so satisfying about creamy mashed potatoes and bacon garnished greens. If your main dish is paired better with a red, then it could be worthwhile to pair your sides with a complimentary white. Sweet sides pair better with dry wines like a Chardonnay, while savoury sides go best with a medium-bodied red like a Merlot. Having different types of wine makes it easy to find a match for all of your dishes.