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Brian’s Guide to Pairing Holiday Dinners

All right, then, your heart is set on trying to please all family members at your holiday table, and if that is not testing your culinary skills sufficiently, mull over the prospect of presenting the wines to best show off what is coming the kitchen.

Fine, then, start with the traditional big bird. Turkey derives its flavour from stuffings and trimmings. Accordingly, attempt to match wines to add or support them. Let us classify stuffings.

SAVOURY

Sage, celery and onion…..cornbread and kale….spinach, bacon and cashew….fennel and herb….lemon, oregano and red onions……chestnut and pancetta,

Opt for a light, crisp dry white with a backbone of acidity such as a Pinot Gris whose aromas and flavours lie in harmony with herbal nuances such as dill, chives, sage and thyme.

FRUIT

Dried apricot, rosemary….wild rice and cranberry…..prune and pancetta……leek and current….apple, spice and shallot.

Try these with aromatic whites exhibiting fruit, acidity and an underlying wisp of sweetness to play off against the fruit. Look to Rieslings and roses.

MUSHROOM

Mushroom stuffings such as hazelnut, sage and porcini and the like do well with light-bodied reds with an inherent earthiness and moderate tannic structure. Go with new world Pinot Noir, Gamay and Merlot. Dismiss young tannin-laden reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Because there is little fat in turkey, there is nothing for the tannins to hold onto. It becomes a case of aggression.

HAM

Balsamic Dijon glazed ham….bourbon, molasses, pecan glaze…thyme-honey glaze….ginger-rum glaze.

With these preparations opt for Gewurztarminer, Chenin Blanc, Viognier to mirror the sweetness of the glazes. For the classical pairing of ham and pineapple, go with the opportunity to trot out an oak-accented Chardonnay.

Should you opt to grace your table with a red, error on the side of a  lighter-bodied choice with charm, bright fruit and acidity. This is when a jazzy, tart rose may come into play.

Best yet, spoil your guests. Place a white and a red on opposite ends of the table and enjoy the proceedings.