Wines For Your Holiday Menus

By Michael Sturlin

Holidays are hectic enough without worrying about what wine goes with your meal. So whether you are a turkey, standing rib roast or baked ham family, there is a wine that will make it the perfect meal. Traditionally speaking, red wine goes with red meat and white wine with white meat, but traditions are sometimes meant to be broken … or at least amended. 

For the traditional holiday table, stick with the basics. Roast turkey pairs very well with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay brings a bright fruit and crispness with a creamy palate, while the Pinot Noir features dark berries and bold tannins. But if you’d like something a little different, try a Pinot Gris and Gamay instead. The mellow flavors of honeydew, pear and honey from the Pinot Gris contrasts with the deep purple jamminess of the Gamay. Beef pairs well with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, but this year try a Cabernet Franc or Tempranillo. The Cabernet Franc will be a little lighter and smoother than a Cab, while a Tempranillo features more spice and mocha flavors than a medium-bodied Merlot.

If your holiday menus are less than traditional, I recommend more adventurous pairings. For example, this year try a Rosé with your smoked turkey or grilled salmon. Fruity aromas of strawberry, raspberry, white nectarine and pink grapefruit, along with a slight minerality — or salinity if its terroir is coastal, will complement the meats’ smoky flavors. Or pair a Gewurztraminer with your baked ham or barbequed chicken. Its spiciness and long aftertaste is ideal for spicy dishes and game. A Syrah with your rack of lamb or a Barolo with your venison roast will definitely be a crowd pleaser. Both are bold choices with a balance of dark fruit and tannins.

Of course, the easiest way to find a wine you like is to open several bottles and see which one tastes good to you and pairs best with your meal. Wine is meant to be enjoyed with food, not fussed over.

Drink what you like and like what you drink. Happy Holidays!

Michael Sturlin is the Beverage Manager at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at 830.336.9000 or


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