Holidays celebrations just cry out for that perfect Christmas dinner wine pairing. Christmas is a time when you as a host really care to make your family and friends sublimely happy with your meal. Luckily, most standard Christmas dinner fare pair exceedingly well with great, affordable and obtainable wines.
Many medium body red wines enhance traditional red meats (seared, broiled, roasted) served with festive sauces elevate your meal into something your guests will rave about without excessive preparation or expertise in the kitchen.
For our family Christmas dinner wine pairing this year, we opted for a meal that was simple to prepare – seared Duck breast with garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach with bacon, a “made up” sauce deglazing our duck pan with a little Port (Ruby), duck stock, and raspberry jam. Our meal was absolutely delicious with a 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape by Clos de Mont-Olivet. This was a lovely ready to drink, medium bodied wine with lots of berry fruits, a smidge of earth and stone and very soft tannins. It was easy to find at our local big box wine store and at an average cost of $28 per bottle. A bit of a splurge for us, but well worth the celebration.
What made this wine and food pairing combination such a success? The fruit in the sauce paired beautifully with the berry flavors in the wine. Pair with the strongest element of your meal which is not always the protein. In this case we selected a wine with a rather full body but soft tannins. The duck with the sauce had a strong flavor that was not intimidated by the wine, and although there was a bit of fattiness to cut through, strong tannins in the wine would have overwhelmed the food flavors.
Other wines that would have worked with this particular meal – a Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley, a Syrah from the Northern Rhone Valley of France, a Barbera from the Piedmont of Italy, or, for a white wine option, a Gewurztraminer from Alsace, France, All would have made a different ‘third taste’ when paired with our dinner.
What was your choice for a perfect Christmas dinner wine pairing this year?