Christmas is just around the corner. If you’re entertaining this year (here at Napa or back at home), we want to help you find the perfect wine pairing for every aspect of that Christmas dinner feast. From wines that pair blissfully well with turkey to the perfect option for smoked salmon appetizers, we picked out three suitable categories. Serve just one or offer your guests the option to choose; your thoughtfulness and attention to detail will really shine as gift of the year.
For early courses like smoked salmon appetizers, pigs in a blanket, or even just cheese, you want to keep the flavor light and airy with as little tannin as possible. Champagne is the perfect complement; it fits all of these asks while also encouraging pre-dinner toasts at just the right moment.
For best results, skip the cheap specials this time around. Choose a moderately high-quality vintage that’s just a little better than your everyday toasting champagne instead. After all, this is a special occasion!
Zinfandels can be really hit or miss, which is exactly why people typically overlook them for turkey dinners. That’s because cheap zinfandels have a reputation for being overly acidic, much too sweet, and just overly alcoholic to the point that they cause that slight shudder when you first sip them.
As with anything else, you get what you pay for when you shop for zinfandels. That over-alcoholed sensation comes from cheap creation processes and bad blends. A good zinfandel is just the right balance of sweet and acidic with a lovely, light flavor; the perfect compromise between red and white.
Incidentally, it’s also the best choice for pairing with turkey – especially if it’s dry. The acids encourage more saliva, masking the unpleasantness of an overly-cooked bird. It’s also light enough to allow the turkey to shine through, even when it’s perfect.
Having red meat, ham, or creamy mashed potatoes? Zinfandels and bubbly are both a little bit too weak to pair well with these feast items. Instead, try a deep merlot that trends toward dryness. It will bring out the natural flavors and spices in the meat while tamping down the richness of the potatoes ever so slightly, adding balance.
To bump this pairing up even higher, look for a merlot that’s dry, yet not too dry. Excessive dryness will suck the moisture out of the mouth, leaving a sensation that can make meat feel dry even if it isn’t. Also, lay low on the oakiness; you do want some, but it shouldn’t be overpowering. Likewise for any acidity.
From light and bubbly to deep, red and rich, this Christmas will be a joy if you pick one or more of these fantastic wines. Of course, you could always just head on over to Napa yourself and let us do the serving! Call Napa Valley Hotels & Suites to book your stay today.