xmas selection

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is less than a week away.  Whether you’re planning a feast for thirty, or a more intimate gathering, you’re probably planning on serving up some wine for the occasion.  So what’s it going to be?

I recently read (can’t remember where, or I would give you a link) a comment to the effect that some people will spend hours carefully selecting the freshest ingredients, hand-rolling appetizers, making sauces from scratch…only to serve everything with big bottles of Barefoot Merlot.  That’s not to knock Barefoot, or Merlot, but to point out that while wine is as important a component as anything else on the table, it often gets overlooked.

I fry a turkey every Thanksgiving, so Christmas dinner at my house typically involves a ham.  The glazed, sliced, ham-on-the-bone that goes great with every side dish should be accompanied by an equally-scrumptious wine.  The ham tends to be slightly sweet, so leave the heavy Cabernets and Syrahs for the hearty rib roast or barbecued brisket you’re planning later in the week.  Instead, reach for a Pinot Noir.  Although a dry red, its lighter body and fruit-forward character (think cherries and raspberries) will not overpower the food.  If you have a large guest list, go with a great value like Mark West Pinot Noir for around $10 a bottle.  For a smaller gathering, Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($45) is sure to impress.

As a second choice, and a nice alternative for guests who prefer white wine, go with a Gewurztraminer (easy to pronounce: ga-VERTZ-trah-mee-ner).  With a little spice, making it a good go-to for Asian dishes, the recent Washington state interpretations tend to be slightly sweet as well.  Several quality offerings from Washington’s Columbia Valley include Hogue 2007 ($10), Columbia 2007 ($12), and Chateau Ste Michelle 2009 ($10).

Any way you slice it, there’s nothing better than meals with family and friends around the holidays.  I hope you enjoy yours, and I wish you all the best the new year has to offer.



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