It’s that time of the year again my friends! Time for the holiday parties, open-houses and festive cocktail hours. There is so much to look forward to and for many of us too much to get done in this craziest of times! It is no different for us wildflowers on the ranch! This is why to I have chosen to adopt the mantra, “The Holidays will be fine, as long as there is wine!”
If you are hosting a holiday soiree, it’s easy to get wrapped up in wanting to get everything just right. This can include choosing the right wine selections to delight your guests! We all know certain foods are best paired with reds, while others dazzle when served with whites, but it goes a bit further than this.
Before my babies came, I was able to work in the wine industry for Testarossa Winery (check out their delicious Pinot Noir). During my time there, I met some of the most fabulous friends and was taught some helpful hints about drinking and pairing wine. I do not consider myself an expert, but more a fly on the wall to the brilliant information and incredible stories of my friends and coworkers in this industry. The time spent with them will always be special, as wine with friends will forever be one of my favorite pastimes. Using some of the information I learned and to help take some stress off of your already oh-so-packed holiday plate, here are some no-fail wine and food pairing tips to make your holiday hosting a breeze!
1. The first tip isn’t brain surgery, but it is the most important. Serve your guests what they want, how they want it! They want to drink a chardonnay, with ice, while eating marinara drenched meatballs? Let them. It’s ok to cringe a bit at the ice request, but give the people what they want! You will still be the hostess with the mostest, and suggest complimentary wine to those guests who are willing to try!
2. Although we all have differing palates, many of us share similar tastebuds, which comes into play when deciding what most people will enjoy in their wine pairings. Enjoy sweet treats? Heck yea, me too! Have a low tolerance of bitterness? Same here! Can you handle acidity when balanced with the right flavors? We hear you! This is why as a general rule, certain wines are known to compliment certain dishes. Although the list can go on for days with the vast amount of wines on the market these days, here’s a general cheat sheet to help you when selecting wines:
Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier
Salmon, Tuna, Roasted Chicken, Steak, Shrimp, Scallops, Oysters, Clams, Pork
Bourdeaux, Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel
Salmon, Chicken, Lamb Chops, Beef, Swordfish, Roasted Chicken, Pork
3. There are certain wines that work great with most any dish, whether it is traditionally paired with a red or a white. These wines pair well with any dish you serve, so they are perfect for buffet style open houses.
Rose, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Champagne, German Riesling, White Zinfandel, Chianti, Pinot Noir, Merlot
4. Don’t forget that sauce makes a huge difference in what wine is served with a dish. A tip that I have found to be helpful is to serve a sparkling wine or Champagne when you have spicy foods, as it helps cut the heat. Eating a dish with a tomato sauce? Pair it with a light red wine, such as Chianti. A fat heavy dish, would be great when paired with a young (meaning recently bottled) red wine with high tannins, as it melds the flavors. Sauces with heavy cream or cheese would be fabulous paired with a full-bodied white wine, such as a Viognier.
5. As we all know, cheese and wine are a classic combination, and served best together. Again, this was my go to dinner in college, although my cheese selections at the time were not so fancy. My husband will probably be disappointed that his favorite colby-jack is not listed in the sophisticated pairing list, sorry babe. I’ve heard it pairs well with Coors Light.
Fresh Goat Cheese and Sauvignon Blanc
Monterey Jack and Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon
Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino and Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux
Brie and Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Stilton Cheese and Port
6. Now that we have discussed what to pair your wine with, its time to buy. I am a sucker for buying wine locally, obviously living in California allows me to buy fantastic wine without high shipping costs. Check your favorite local shops for holiday purchasing deals, as many offer discounts for buying large quantities. Even better, sneak away and wine sample at favorite wineries, who can give you specialized information on the wines they pour in their tasting rooms. My time working at the winery made me a bit of a wine snob. How can you not be when you get to taste wine handpicked and bottled with love by the wine makers! I am looking at you, Bill and Adam! However, seeing as how I do not grow money on my trees at Wildflowers Ranch, I understand the need to remain on a budget. Here are a few wines I recommend within the $15-25 range, which is considered a good price for wines to share at a party. Click the variety link for more information. *Please purchase and drink responsibly.* Cheers!
This is my former co-worker Adam’s wine! He and his wife own Comartin Cellars. I highly suggest any of their varietals. They are wonderful people and I am thrilled (but not surprised) that their wine has received stelar reviews from acclaimed industry magazines!