What to DRINK With That: Festive Dinners Traditional & Alternative

L-R: Ike Seaman, Mike Bernardo, Amorita Adair


What to DRINK with That

DRINK editor Treve Ring asks local wine experts how they would approach pairing dishes and flavours. For this holiday edition, we are pairing to both traditional and alternative festive dinners.


Our Experts:

Amorita Adair (AA)
Marketing Manager, The Wine Syndicate

After discovering the joy of wine through multiple trips to Okanagan wineries and a part time retail position in Vancouver, Amorita enrolled in both the International Sommelier Guild and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. She then spent several years selling a portfolio of premium wines to liquor stores and restaurants around Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.  Craving a challenge, Amorita was a part of the opening team of Legacy Liquor Store, Vancouver’s largest private liquor store. After steering the Marketing + Promotions for Legacy, Amorita has returned to working for an agency, this time at the aiding in Marketing + Sales for The Wine Syndicate.  Amorita has kicked dirt in many wine regions, including the US, France, Spain and Italy.

Mike Bernardo (MB)
Wine Director, Vij’s Restaurant

Mike’s love for wine began while working at the five star hotel, The Balmoral in Edinburgh. After returning to Canada he became Manager and Sommelier at Dock 503 on Vancouver Island, and then In January 2001 he joined Vikram Vij and Meeru Dalwala at Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver. Mike currently is Director of Operations and wine director of Vij’s companies, leading the Vij’s wine program to win several awards, including the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, and Gold Prize for best wine list from Vancouver Magazine. Mike also penned, with Vikram Vij, the accompanying wines for the recipes in the September 2006 Vij’s Cookbook.

Ike Seaman (IS)
Director of Food & Beverage, The Wickaninnish Inn

Ike has been in the hospitality industry for his whole life, starting in Summerville Beach Nova Scotia, where his parents owned a small canteen and a couple of cottages. In addition to hospitality, Ike’s passion is with surfing, so coastal life suits him very well: surf by day and serve by night. He moved to Tofino in 1994 and started working at the Inn in 1996, holding many positions over the years including server, special events manager, restaurant manager, wine manager and now food & beverage director. He oversees the large wine cellar and bar, and works very closely with the culinary team to decide on weekly wine pairings for The Wick’s west coast cuisine.


What to DRINK with:

ROAST PRIME RIB and PORT PAN SAUCE with Yorkshire pudding, Anna potatoes, fine beans, roast shallots & fresh horseradish

AA – I feel like an old pro picking a wine to pair with this dish, as it has been a classic at my family Christmas dinners for as long as I can remember!  During the holidays it’s always acceptable to splurge, so I would bring a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape (CdP) to the table – ideally a Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre blend.  The Syrah and Grenache would provide the herbal quality (rosemary, thyme, sage, bouquet garni) to pair well with the savoury sauce and earthiness of the beans and roast shallots. Mourvedre would provide the tannic structure needed to hold up to such a big cut of beef.  However if your family is anything like mine, the wine usually doesn’t make it to my end of the table before it’s empty, so a more value-conscious Cotes du Rhone would also pair very well with this traditional meal.

MB – This dish is all about the fat and richness of the meat. I would land in northern Italy with a nice full-bodied Barolo. The fat in the roast can take away from a softer, less tannic wine. If you want to drink outside the box and be more extravagant, you could try an aged vintage port, as the high alcohol and the sugar will cut through the fat while complementing the sauce nicely.

IS – Prime rib has been on my favourite list forever now. My typical start to this dinner is to have a nice cold lager or pilsner while preparing (cooking is hard work!)  With a traditional meal like this I truly enjoy a merlot dominant Bordeaux blend – something with ripe tannin, gentle dark berry fruits and hints of cedar and chocolate.  I just love this combination and I feel a more fruit forward and softer tannin wine really brings out the flavor of the beef and port combination.


TURDUCKEN stuffed with a mixture of smoked sausage, oysters, paprika & corn bread

AA – Wow, what a challenge! I would choose a couple different options here, depending on whether the table likes red or white.  If red is the preference, I would stick with Burgundy, preferably a good value Fixin, Givry or Mercurey: something with earthy notes to work with the duck and sausage.  The duck will have some fattiness to it as well, so brisk acidity will help cut that.  If white is preferred, I’d head towards Rhone varietals.  A juicy Marsanne/Roussane blend would have decent acidity and the weight of the wine would match the weight of the meat. I also think this white blend would be so delicious with sweet and smoky corn bread.  In addition, the earthy notes and higher acidity of both the red and white options would cut through this intriguing stuffing!

MB – This can be a fun one to pair with as you can go in so many directions, both white or red. For me I will land in the Rhone Valley and go with a white Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This wine offers a beautiful aromatic nose with a full-bodied, rich and oily mid-palate, yet has refreshing acidity on the finish; a little something to go with each ingredient.

IS – Turducken, this is an interesting one for sure. All those lovely birds with the smokey, briney and sweet combinations leads me to Riesling right away – a rich wine with bracing acidity to compliment all the flavours.  I have also been enjoying Sangiovese a lot these days and think that it would partner with the wonderful spices and smokiness.  I would not want the wine too overpowering – aim for soft fruits and tannin with a bit of acidity.  Sangiovese is a great food wine because of its range in weight, fruit and bright acidity, allowing it to be paired with a wide variety of foods, flavors and combinations.

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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