Drinks Pairing for the Big Holiday Feast

It’s no real surprise that one of the largest and most orchestrated meals of the year for many people is also one of the most challenging to pair. The big December holiday feast meal – be it for Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or St. Lucia Day or Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe or Omisoka (or a rainbow of others) comes with its own set of foods, customs and traditions. In today’s global blend of families, these feasts are often further changed by the organic addition of new flavours, new people, new faces and new customs. You know what I’m talking about – you’re making your grandmother’s gingerbread trifle, trying the new kale salad you found online, roasting a turkey just like your mum taught you, your cousin is making gluten-free spelt bread and your best friend is bringing his favourite duck fat brussels sprouts. And that’s not even getting into the infinite variations on stuffing!

Therefore, when people ask me what to pour with their holiday dinner, my suggestions are kept broad and welcoming. With numerous different dishes on the table all competing with sweet/savoury/spicy seasonings – coupled with a myriad of folks across different ages, backgrounds and palates – there is no real right or wrong pour. Your wine should be the peacemaker on the table, facilitating food friendliness. I suggest avoiding extremes of tannin, acid, wood or sugar. Focus on fresh wines with juicy acidity to assuage all the different flavours and moderate body to stand up alongside most proteins and sauces. And always have sparking wine on hand; not just because you’re celebrating a holiday, but because bubbles pair with most everything, and can give your palate (and tummy) a welcome break.

Plus, someone in your kin will most likely make a toast to the holidays, family, friends and sharing good food and drink. Cheers ~



Canyonview Chardonnay 2012
Summerland, Okanagan Valley, BC
*$23  +389866

Potent dried herbs and grass opens the nose – desert sage, dried Ponderosa pine, meadow scrub. These intriguing sandy / earthy / desert characters carry through to the lingering finish, joining a medium-bodied palate of creamy musk melon, subtle pineapple rind, yellow apple and Asian pear. Savoury, stony spice elements dominate; wild ferment, zero oak and low vintner intervention allow the terraced vineyard’s nature to dominate chardonnay’s blank canvas. Not a typical Okanagan chardy, and that’s a welcome reveal. Pair with salt crusted roast chicken and sage dressing.  89 points.




Cellar Dweller

Jean Paul Brun
Terres Dorées l’Ancien 2012
Beaujolais, France
$25  +681569

Domaine des Terres Dorées is in a limestone-rich area known as the “Region of the Golden Stones.” Sustainably focused and non-interventionist in both the vineyard and winery, Brun is a firm advocate of minimal SO2, natural yeast, old vines and low yields with his wines, and has seen wide critical acclaim for his honest, expressive wines. L’Ancien, from vines 50-80 years old, opens with potent spicy pepper (white and black) and fine rasped fragrant cloves. Bright cherry, dried sage, raspberry and sea salt continue on the juicy palate. Lifted pink grapefruit acidity carries wild berry spices across fine grained, lithely structured tannins and through the lengthy finish. Elegant and honest; a beautiful match for your herb trussed poultry or pork tenderloin. 91 points.



Blanc de Blanc Brut NV
Bordeaux, France
$15  +187740

Dry, crisp, grapefruit toast and pear – what more could you ask for from an under $15 French bubble? Great value for this sémillon/muscadelle/ugni blanc blend from the southwest/midi region. Large, frothy mousse is potent on the palate, bringing forth gobs of apple, pear, grass, hay and smoked stone. A consistent pour for crowds or sparkling cocktails. 86 points.



Cerasuolo Di Vittoria DOCG 2012
Sicily, Italy
$30  +749085

The sole DOGC in Sicily, Cerasuolo di Vittoria is quite distinctive, generally equal parts nero d’avola/frappato and markedly cherry dominant (cerasuolo translates as cherry-like) in aroma and flavour. This is an excellent, elegant example – crimson cherry, pomegranate, plum, dried herb, twine, wild raspberry and raspberry leaf notes, with bright, juicy cranberry, wild strawberry, subtle tannins, sea salt and a powdery fine spice that extends through the finish. “Italian Beaujolais”? Si! Pour with cranberry wild rice salads or roast turkey. 89 points.


No Wineos

Sea Cider
Saanich Peninsula, Vancouver Island, BC
*18  +206904 

If you close your eyes and imagine all of Christmas transformed into a liquid, this would be it. Spicy gingerbread, cinnamon stick, clove studded oranges, and candied ginger glides like caramel on the palate. Bright apple freshness keeps the mid-sweet cider from being cloying; the glass finishes fresh and bright and the balance is admirable. Go from spiced lamb sausage to blue cheeses to heady, molasses-strong gingerbread with this pour.


Each week Treve highlights 5 timely and tasty picks. Her weekly choices include Locavore (BC wines), Cellar Dweller (wines to lay down for a while for maximum enjoyment), Budgeteer (wallet-friendly bottles under $15), Adventurer (wines for geeks, enlightening or pushing the envelope) and No Wineos (a non-wine pro-alcoholic beverage). So what are you waiting for? DRINK This!


DRINKing Guide: How to use our purchasing information.
*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores. The price is suggested retail price, and may fluctuate depending on source. Wines are scored out of 100 points.





Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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