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Savor the Season

By Brandon Chaplin, Specialty Manager

No matter what main course you plan to serve at your holiday meals, whether it be lamb, turkey or pork, careful pairing of these entrees with wine is as important as any other part of your meal planning. Choosing a wine that complements and accentuates the flavors of these dishes not only shows your friends and family that you put a lot of thought into the meal, but also truly increases the enjoyment of the meal.

Since many of these meals are eaten only on special occasions, we are not as familiar with their pairings as we would be with beef, chicken or pasta dishes. Don’t worry. I have a few suggestions to make your meal planning a little easier, without breaking the bank.

Lamb, while notoriously difficult to pair with wine, is unbelievably delicious with a Cotes du Rhone. Cotes du Rhone's assertive earthiness echoes the lamb’s rich flavors while balancing any potential gaminess with its well-grounded berry undertones and subtle complexities. My favorite leg of lamb dish uses a yogurt and rosemary marinade and is served with a wine gravy…skip the mint jelly.

Another holiday favorite is, of course, turkey. For a lot of us this is the stand-by for many holiday meals, but by no means does it have to be the same old, same old. A well balanced Gewürztraminer or a not-too-sweet Riesling give new life to the traditional turkey and stuffing meal. Their wonderful apple orchard nose and crisp fruit flavors combine with the bird to make an irresistible taste explosion on the palate.

Roast pork or ham is another popular holiday main course. With pork there are several excellent choices; however a good Zinfandel, with its well-focused black currant, gentle tannins and subtle hints of chocolate, is the first wine to come to mind. It would be an extremely compatible selection without being overpowering like a bigger wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, or even a Merlot, might be.

More and more holiday celebrations are going vegetarian. Prosecco or Riesling will complement a spicy vegetarian meal nicely, while Pinot Noir, with its broad pairing options, is also an excellent choice.

Whatever entree you choose this holiday season, remember that pairing it with a good wine can only enhance the experience, adding to the flavor, warmth, and conversation of the occasion.

Updated 11/12/12

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