For many people, Christmas dinner is the most important meal of the year. That can put more than enough pressure on the person having to prepare the food. Finding a selection of wines that will accompany the meal nicely often seems like a step too far.
However, it’s not too tricky, with a bit of advanced preparation, to find wines that are flexible enough to match a range of the foods that we all like to indulge in at Christmas. Your guests will be impressed by the sumptuous feast you present them with, and you never need to tell them that we gave you a cheat sheet to follow!
Get more information about how to set out your table over the festive period by consulting our handy guide on selecting the proper glassware for different types of wine.
The Christmas Ham
A Christmas ham has a lot of delicious flavor characteristics to recommend it as an excellent choice of festive food. The inherent sweetness and saltiness of the dish can mean that people are intimidated about trying to pair it with wine, but the cheat’s trick is to pair your wine not with the meat but with the glaze. An orange or marmalade-style glaze tends to be the most traditional. You can find that fruity element in bold wine pairings like a rich Australian Shiraz or perhaps a jammy Californian Zinfandel.
These wines pack a real punch and are full of heady aromas and palate-pleasing tastes. They are big and bold, just like the showstopping festive ham, so the two things can make an outstanding balance on the table. A Zinfandel is also an excellent choice for a glaze with a spicy element, perhaps with star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, or even mustard.
Why not experiment with the Sweet Oaks 2016 Zinfandel to pair with your ham this holiday season?
The Roast Dinner
Turkey dinner has its origins in the British Christmas dinner and is enjoyed by an estimated 22 million families in the United States each year. But how easy is it to match a stuffed bird that is served with roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes, gravy, and more with a wine? The obvious answer would be a Chardonnay. This is a flexible grape and, depending on where it is grown; it will have slightly different characteristics and aromas.
A cool or moderate climate Chardonnay would have enough acidity and citrus or stone fruit-forward flavors to go well with the majority of elements on your plate. However, we also like to mix things up with a lighter red wine. The fresh forest fruit characters and slightly perfumed notes of violet make Pinot Noir a delicious choice that is bold enough to stand up against the mishmash of tastes that we all love so much in our Christmas roast.
How about getting Sweet Oaks 2018 Pinot Noir to see how it pairs with your Christmas turkey?
A sweet white wine would be the logical choice to pair with this delicious, caramel-laden dish. Still, sometimes we think it is nice to mix things up with an off-dry sparkling wine – try a semi-dry Champagne or perhaps a demi-sec sparkling Saumur to bring bubbles and a touch of glamour to your festive dessert.
What grows together, goes together, and pecan pie brings along all the tastes of autumn. When matching with a glass of wine, the logical match is with the Gamay grape, which makes the famously light and fresh red wines of Beaujolais. Look for the highest classifications, the Beaujolais Crus, to find the best quality wines. In particular, Morgon and Fleurie are typical areas of the French region known for producing some of the best examples of this refreshing wine. It will stand up nicely against the earthy, nutty, and slightly spiced tones of the pie.
For many Jewish Americans, eating Chinese food became a tradition on Christmas Day as in the recent past, those were the only restaurants that were open on Christmas Day. Of course, if you enjoy indulging in a little Chinese takeaway, there is a wine to go with that too!
Of course, it is massively simplistic to lump ‘Chinese food’ together in one category. The regions of China have produced a beautifully rich and diverse palate of dishes and flavors over many centuries. However, we can arguably say that the key dishes prevalent in the Americanized takeaway culture, like chow mein, dim sum, and Szechuan spiced dishes, all have a lighter profile with fresh flavors and delicate spicing. That means that they lend themselves well to pairing with a Gewürztraminer, a wine that has spice in the very name (Gewürz translates to English as “herb” or “spice”)!
Why not try Sweet Oaks wine and see if you can find a perfect pairing of your own?