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Your Wine . . . with Cindy Adams: Pairing appropriate wine with food can enhance your holiday meals

Published in the November 9 – 22, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Cindy Adams

Cindy Adams

Cindy Adams

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

Whether we’re ready or not, the holidays are about to arrive. There are so many details to think about — cleaning your house for visitors, planning menus, buying gifts (and wrapping those gifts!), and so many other things that sometimes the selection of wines gets lost in the shuffle. The right wine will enhance a holiday meal and could easily make the difference between a really good meal and a great meal. So, how do you select a wine that will not only enhance your main dish, but all the delicious side dishes as well? Well, here are some guidelines and a few suggestions.

Especially at your Thanksgiving dinner, you need to consider the dishes that will be served with the turkey, such as sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and vegetable dishes, all of which provide a wine selection challenge. Here are a few suggestions that can work very nicely with a traditional Thanksgiving meal. A wonderful food wine is a dry Riesling. Many of us associate Riesling with a very sweet wine but actually there are seven levels of sweetness associated with German Rieslings, so take a good look at the label before making your purchase. The driest of these levels is a Kabinett Riesling, which is a perfect food wine. Light, crisp and with just a bit of acidity, but with that wonderful floral character that Riesling is known for, this complements most foods and is a real people pleaser.

However, if a red wine is more your style, I would suggest going with a lighter red rather than a big, bold wine that may overpower some of the dishes. In this case, a good Pinot Noir might be the wine you’re looking for. The soft fruit on the wine goes very nicely with turkey, yet it has enough body to stand up to a sausage stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy. However, if you would like to try something different, Guglielmo Winery’s Private Reserve Dolcetto is a delightful, light red wine that is both fruity and dry and very budget friendly. You’ll find notes of dried cherry, pomegranate and cranberry and a nice acidity that makes it a wonderful wine to go with a variety of holiday foods. Another “maverick” suggestion is a dry (not sweet) rosé which have gained in popularity. Many people shy away from rosés, thinking they will be too sweet, but many are dry, with very interesting flavors and are great with a large variety of foods. Try a Griglolino Rosé from Guglielmo Winery — made from a very unusual grape grown on the Guglielmo estate, and one that originated in Northern Italy. You may be surprised how delicious it is.

Turkey dinner with all the trimmings aside, this time of year presents wonderful, traditional menus that we often don’t eat at other times of the year. Holiday dinners often include a “star” entrée, such as ham or prime rib. A wine selection for baked ham often stumps people and, again, the rest of the menu will also help determine your selection. Generally speaking, a fruity Pinot Noir with notes of cinnamon and cola, are a good match for a ham with a fruit or honey glaze. For something different, an off-dry (barely sweet) sparkling wine would be a great suggestion — and just might start a new tradition! The bubbles would also counteract the salt in the meat. You probably don’t want a heavy red wine with ham, but it’s a perfect match for prime rib.

Most folks automatically think “Cabernet Sauvignon” with that entrée, and it is a good choice, but you might also want to experiment with other dark and delicious reds, such as Syrah, Petite Sirah or even a rich Charbono or Barbera.

Whatever wine you choose to pair with your holiday foods, just make sure that they’re also paired with family, good friends, and a joyful, thankful heart. Cheers!

Cindy Adams, CS, CSW, is the director of retail operations at Guglielmo Winery.