Holiday Pairings For All

We are often asked which wines should be served with a Christmas meal.  That’s like asking what car you should buy.  The answer is a consultant’s best known phrase: “It depends!”

What’s for dinner?


Baked, smoked, or honeyed hams beg for wines with a dash of sweet. A German Riesling with a touch of residual sugar, made lighter in style and a bit lower in alcohol will hop on the ham pairing wagon with plenty of food-friendly acidity and crowd-pleasing palate appeal. Canadian Rieslings tend to bring more body, significantly less sugar, and a richer palate profile than their German counterpart, and are capable of handling a wide range of pork-themed options with a wine focus on weight and pairing presence. Red wines that can accommodate ham happenings tend to be lighter in body and overall style. Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, and Spain’s Tempranillo grape often exhibit subtle tannins with an easier going pairing profile. Have you tried basting your ham with a few ounces of Canadian Icewine…hmm.

Red Wines for Ham: Beajolais Nouveau , Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Tempranillo

White Wines for Ham: Riesling and Gewurztraminer


Turkey on its own presents a fairly straight-forward pairing partner, but who really eats turkey solo? Herb-filled stuffing, roasted veggies, rich sauces, and an assortment of savory sides manage to make their way alongside the bird. It’s these sides and sauces that must be taken into account when working out the best wine pairings. Sauvignon Blanc is hands-down one of the top white wine picks for turkey and savory sides, as it tends to bring its own herbal tones to the table.

Red Wines for Turkey: Pinot Noir , Zinfandel , Syrah/Shiraz, Beajolais Nouveau

White Wines for Turkey: Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Riesling, Gewurztraminer


Prime Rib

Prime rib makes a serious play for a variety of red wines. A big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon , a playful Zinfandel, a rustic Tempranillo from Spain, a refined red from Bordeaux, a Barbaresco or Barolo from Italy – all of these varietals can mix and mingle with a slice of prime rib and bring out subtle nuances in the pairing depending on the regional roots. White wines will have a tough time keeping up, but if you are hard pressed and must venture to the white grapes, try a full-throttle White Burgundy (Chardonnay) to keep pace with the rich textures and greater ratios of protein and fat.

Red Wines to Pair with Prime Rib: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Tempranillo

White Wines to Pair with Prime Rib: Forget about it!


One comment on “Holiday Pairings For All

  1. Wine Cub says:

    I would add the Beaujolais for ham. It’s really tasty.

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