It’s the countdown to Christmas in Paris and we asked our Sommelier, Mona Khalife to help us prepare for the perfect Christmas dinner. She serves up her expert advice on what wines she thinks you should be considered for this and future celebrations.
Choosing the wine to go with a meal is not always easy and even more so during Christmas where we indulge in perhaps, even more, food than usual. So which wines will work?
Opening the festivities
What better way than to start with some bubbly:
Champagne is always a safe bet but you have some sparkling wines, outside of Champagne, which are very good. For instance, Saumur or Vouvray (in the Loire Valley, France) which produces great sparkling wines with the champagne method (méthode champenoise), or Blanquette de Limoux ( Languedoc region, France), which is considered as the birthplace of sparkling.
Otherwise, you can find sparkling wines in the USA, such as Domaine Chandon (Moët & Chandon estate), Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, and the Schramsberg Winery.
Sparkling wine can be easily be paired with seafood (prawns, oysters …..), fish or even some poultry terrines. Some vegetable verrines are also a good match.
The Main Attraction
Next up, the famous roasted turkey with stuffing, potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce. I would recommend a medium-bodied light red wine that will enhance the flavors of the meat without being too harsh on the cranberry sauce. I had the chance to sample a few wines from Oregon and they would be a great fit for this Christmas classic. Take a look at the pinot noirs offered by J.Christopher (Willamette Valley) which has nice silky tannins, or Cuvée Laurène, Drouhin Estate which is richer.
If you want to stick with French wines, then Burgundy is the best choice with Gevrey-Chambertin (north part of Burgundy) which is full bodied with elegant tannins, or a Volnay (middle part of Burgundy) which is medium-full bodied with soft tannins, or a Mercurey (south part of Burgundy), which has a lighter style than the 2 others, with silky tannins. It also can match some game meats such as pheasant or goose or venison as well.
For those who prefer richer wines, I would recommend a wine using the Merlot grape variety which is full-bodied with smoother tannins than Cabernet-Sauvignon. Even a Californian Merlot (Shafer Estate for example) or a French right bank Bordeaux wine such as Saint Emilion Grand Cru would be appropriate here.
Some drink only white wine, and it is not my place to argue with that. If white is what you want, then white you should have. I would pair the turkey with an oaked Chardonnay (that has a richer palate, to handle the roasted turkey and the oakiness to sustain the acidity of the cranberry sauce). The Domaine Chandon, Carneros, Napa Valley has that strength without being too heavy on the palate or Stags’ Leap Estate also does great Chardonnays. Yet another possibility is Argentinian wines which also provide amazing Chardonnays.
That’s why wine is so great, you’re not stuck with one choice but many for Food and Wine Pairing. It’s why I love teaching the Chef’s Table at Cook’n With Class. The options are almost limitless on what I can pair with our chef’s amazing tasting menus.
What you’ve been waiting for all night – dessert!
At last but not the least, dessert time.
If you’ve decided to go with pumpkin pie with its nutty flavors, spices, and sweet finish, I would go for a sweet wine that has a good level of acidity to balance and soften the flavors of the pie. A nice Loire Valley (France) wine can be a good combination: Vouvray or a bottle from Montlouis-sur-Loire – Both of these are dry and perfect for anyone who is not into sweet wines. A white Sauvignon Blanc with some oak can be a good fit also, as it keeps a nice freshness. A Pinot Gris Late Harvest from Alsace will also have that rich flavors and acidity.
If you want, you can even have an Iced Wine from Inniskillin Estate (Canada) who does great wines with the acidity we’re looking for.
Otherwise, finish the diner with the same wine as you started – with Champagne !!!!
Keep safe and enjoy!
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a sparkling New Year.
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