It’s that time of year. Families and friends gather round the dinner table, give thanks for life’s great blessings, pay respects to various religious beliefs and show the love and affection they have for one another. This all sounds like a great idea, but for the host or hostess, entertaining company can also be incredibly stressful.
The list of dishes seem almost endless-from turkey to cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, ham, sweet potatoes, squash, chocolate, roast duck, to oyster stuffing-it’s enough to make your head spin, and can also make for challenging wine pairings. Never fear! We’ve got the perfect five-course holiday menu – complete with recipes, and paired with some of our favorite wines.
Crave Local’s Holiday Wine Pairings and Menu Plan
First Course: Assorted cheese plate paired with Blandy’s 10 Year Sercial Madeira (SRP $30).
As a fortified wine, the Blandy’s 10 Year has highly concentrated flavors of toasted hazelnut, caramel and honey. A rather rich, fortified wine, it finishes bright due to Madeira’s higher acidity.
For your cheese selection, we recommend Comté, Epoisses, and Bleu d’Auvergne. Although each unique, these particular French cheeses will complement the flavors in the Madeira, and a rich enough to stand up to it’s high alcohol content. Comté is firm, with tiny holes, and a sweet, nutty flavor (also makes for a fabulous treat on hot apple pie!), while the Epoisses has a pungent scent and a bright orange rind, washed with Marc de Bourgogne spirit (a pomace brandy), and definitely a stand out on a cheese plate. The Blue d’Auvergne is soft and creamy, with lots of salinity and a spicy taste. A perfect way to pique their palates for what is to come.
Pumpkin and squash is at it’s best this time of year. Pair it with a high quality California Chardonnay like this one. Made in the traditional method (oak barrels vs. stainless steel), this wine is not your typical over the top, buttery California Chardonnay, but is actually quite food friendly. Complex aromas of lemon balm, grapefruit peel, and melon are on the nose, with white peach, nice acidity, and high minerality. A very refreshing wine.
Third Course: Traditional duck confit cassoulet paired with Sojourn Cellars 2012 Wohler Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (SRP $48)
Nothing goes better (at least in our opinion) with duck than Pinot Noir. Those tiny grapes can carry a lot of complexity, and when with paired with a flavor rich dish like a cassoulet, the wine will simply shine. Sojurn has aromas of red cherries, cola, spice, and light oak, typical of pinot noir. Mouthfeel is velvety and sexy-just like this dish.
Fourth Course: Roast turkey or ham (depending on the holiday) with potatoes au gratin, oyster dressing and roasted winter vegetables paired with Trapiche 2011 Broquel Malbec (SRP $18)
Does Malbec wine go with turkey? Red wine can definitely pair with poultry, and even with white meat.
Why it works: by now, you’ve already eaten fats, flavors, and spices that have awakened your palate. Not to mention, the flavors in this particular wine are complex, but still soft, unlike a Zinfandel or Chianti. We noted scents of blackberry, plum, coffee and dark chocolate on the nose, with rich tannins, and a solid mouth feel. There’s a bit of spice on the end, and as with most aged Argentinean Malbecs, it’s got great legs. This wine is also a steal for $18. You might want to hide a few extra bottles for yourself.
Fifth Course: Mom’s famous chocolate brownie pie paired with Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port (SRP $24)
This port is one of or favorites for pairing with chocolate desserts. It’s not too sweet, and the cocoa notes in the wine get richer when paired with food. The nose is heady, with aromas of ripe plums, cherries and dark chocolate. On the palate it’s complex, with a long, lingering finish. It will keep for up to two months after opening, but we doubt it will be around for long. A total steal at under $25. Try it with a dark chocolate pie.