The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Wine Pairing During The Holidays

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It’s the beginning of November, which means almost Turkey Time in my books. When I (Blair) think about the holiday season, a few things come to mind… family fun, being in a food coma, and now that I am of legal age, enjoying a glass (or two) of wine with my loved ones! There are some benefits of getting older, don’t cha know? Since I’m still kind of new to the drinking game, I usually stick to what I know. And sometimes that means getting a little chuckle when I order a glass of Riesling despite what the meal may be.

Since I live across the country from my family, this is going to be the first year I celebrate with friends rather than family- Friendsgiving, anyone? While this means I won’t be able to indulge in my Nana’s amazing green bean casserole, hopefully my wine options will distract everyone from the mediocre meal itself! I decided to pick the brain of someone who could turn me into a wine wizard. Meet Kyle, the wine connoisseur for Silverlake Wine.

So, Kyle, what kind of wine should I serve depending on the main course? I have always known Thanksgiving as TURKEY Day, but what if I want to venture out into the world of red meat and beyond?

The sneaky awesome pairing with turkey is champagne. Try it. For red, a Pinot Noir works very well. One thing I look for in pairings for our customers is what types of herbs, spices, sauces etc are going to be with the dish. For very herby meals, I like Northern Rhone Syrah for red or Viognier for white.Ham can be a little bit richer, like a California Pinot Noir or Syrah/Grenache. Another sneaky pairing? Duck confit with dry Austrian or German riesling. It is truly luxurious.

What are wines that feel more seasonal/festive this time of year? I am a sucker for white summer wines so I need some expertise in this area.

I love sparkling wine for the holidays. I insist on having a glass of sparkling while trimming the tree in my house. Also, it can be fun to seek out large format bottles for big events. Look at the per bottle cost – we have a double magnum here at the store for about $50, which seems expensive. Most people wouldn’t think twice about getting 4 bottles $12.50 each, though. If you’re going to be serving a group, having a big bottle makes it seem like an event and (depending on the wine!) can be pretty cost effective, too.

Pumpkin pie is going to be a must at this party. Do you serve different wines with appetizers, dinner, dessert?

Depends on how many people are coming. With bigger groups it can make sense to have some different options, particularly if you are having potluck style wine with different people bringing different wines. You can have them bring wine specific to a course. Never go nuts on dessert wine, most people will only have a tiny bit and some will skip it entirely.
The other thing to think about is what the event is about. With a dinner party, it can be cool to have wine be a bit of a conversation piece, and it would make sense to pick out unique, diverse wines. At a family get-together, people may not be into a wine tasting and just want to catch up and enjoy time with family. In that case, just a good workable red and white will probably be the way to go. One additional thing to think about – if you get 5 different wines and only 1 bottle of each, it is possible that not everybody will get to try something and feel left out. That would suck.

I don’t want any of my friends empty handed at this get together. How many bottles do you purchase per amount of people you are expecting at dinner so I can make sure that doesn’t happen?

This ties into the last point from above. We say you can get about 5 restaurant sized pours from a bottle (actual will depend on glass size and how much people pour themselves. A Riedel Vinum wine glass holds nearly an entire bottle of wine if you fill it up to the brim.) So for a party of 10 people, you could get 3 bottles of red and 3 bottles of white and everybody would get at least a glass, with room to pour another for people who want it.

How much wine to get depends partly on the number of people but at least as much on how much each person will drink. If people are going for greatness, you’re going to need more. If half the people are just having little sips, you can get away with less.

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  1. anytime i can break out the champagne is a good day for me, so will definitely have to give it a try with turkey this year 🙂

    • Jen Pinkston

      11/07/2013

      Oh, I so wish I could try these out for myself this year, but it looks like I will be waiting for holiday season 2014!

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