The top five wine varietals to consider keeping on hand for the holidays include Pinot Noir,Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Riesling and a Sauvignon Blanc. Between these five varietals you will be able to handle a substantial spread of different foods. Ranging from appetizers featuring shrimp cocktail (think Riesling) to stuffed mushrooms (opt for Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir) to a full course meals featuring turkey (Pinot Noir), prime rib (enter Cabernet Sauvignon), honeyed-ham and all of the fixings – these key varietals will have you covered.
Pinot Noir- Give Pinot Noir a go with Brie, goat or Swiss cheese and crackers, veggie trays, stuffed mushrooms, baked ham, turkey meat, roasted duck, and even foods that are heavy on the cinnamon and cloves. Quick tip – skip the fruit and super sweet dessert pairings with this wine.
Producers to consider:
Adelsheim, Castle Rock, Saintsbury, Etude, Sebastiani, Acacia, Fess Parker, King Estate.
Cabernet Sauvignon- Consider pairing your Cab with blue cheese, deviled egg appetizers, heavy duty red meats, smoked meats, and dark chocolate.
Producers to Consider: McManis Family Vineyards, Beaulieu Vineyards, Grgich Hills, Ravenswood, Mondavi, Pine Ridge Stag’s Leap, Gundlach Bundschu, Silver Oak, Franciscan.
Shiraz/Syrah – Grab the Shiraz for the smoked or grilled sausage platters, and consider pairing with a roast, ham, salmon filet, and pizza. The Australian Shiraz is noteably fruit forward, compared to a traditional French Syrah – keep this in mind when making your matches.
Producers to Consider: d’Arenberg, Penfold’s, Yellow Tail, Peter Lehmann, Wolf Blass, Concha y Toro, Jean-Louis Denois.
Riesling – Pair Riesling with a wide variety of appetizers, fruit trays would be more compatible with Riesling than any of the other varietals mentioned here. Also a delight with honeyed ham, roasted veggies, seafood and spicy fare.
Producers to Consider: Gunderloch, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Trimbach, Hogue, Fetzer, Pacific Rim, Dr. Loosen, Tesch, Schloss Johannisberg, Fritz Haag, Hugel et Fils, JJ Prüm.
Sauvignon Blanc – You will love this herby, earthy refreshing varietal with turkey and stuffing, dishes that are heavier on the garlic, quiche, soups, seafood, and many ethnic entrees. Skip the red meat with this wine.
Producers to Consider: Marlborough, St. Supery, Geyser Peak, Covey Run, Montes and Hogue Cellars.
Be prepared for any get together, gift exchange or office party, with these selected varietals. Of course having a Champagne on hand for New Year’s or spur of the moment celebrations, is not a bad idea either.