Choosing wines for feasts and celebrations | Wine column

  • Monday, November 20, 2017 8:57am
  • Life
Kimberlea Miller, Wine Columnist

Kimberlea Miller, Wine Columnist

With the holiday season upon us, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of my thoughts about choosing wine for the all the seasonal festivities and meals you will share with family and friends. Of course I’m a firm believer that the best wine for any occasion is the wine that is best loved by yourself.

That said, there are some go-to varietals that are wonderful to have on hand for impromptu occasions and last-minute gifts. Among the reds, you really can’t go wrong with the versatility of:

• Cabernet Sauvignon

• Merlot

• Pinot Noir

• Syrah

And for your all-purpose whites, I recommend:

• Chardonnay

• Sauvignon Blanc

• Riesling

Before I get into holiday pairings, I want to give you a little travel tip. If you are heading over to Leavenworth this season, Baroness Cellars offers a very nice white spiced Engelwein that you serve hot. It’s a lovely and enjoyable take on mulled wine. Baroness also produces a Labour of Love red table wine that would make a wonderful addition to any holiday setting.

Holiday parties

* If you are hosting a holiday party, start with a lovely white like an unoaked Chardonnay, a crisp Riesling or even a bright Rosé. Then work your way into a nice light red like Pinot Noir or Shiraz. Please remember that if you have guests who prefer only whites or reds, that’s OK. If you are attending a holiday event as a guest, take the time to show interest in what is being served.

Holiday meal pairings

Here are some general guidelines of what to serve or enjoy with traditional holiday feasts.

With ham, you want a clean white with just a touch of residual sugar to enhance the brine. The same thoughts apply to roasted pork. I recommend your favorite Riesling or Gewürztraminer.

If you or your guests prefer reds, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Barbera or Bordeaux-style blends pair well with your pork. You may be thinking of Oregon as the source for your Pinot Noir, but as the Washington wine lady, let me suggest that you try the Pinot from Whidbey Island Winery.

A beautiful, zesty white like a Sauvignon Blanc or a bright white blend pairs well with the traditional turkey and savory trimmings. On the red end of the spectrum, you want a lovely, simple red like a Pinot Noir, Cab-based blend or Syrah that complements the meal without overpowering it.

If duck is on your table, lean toward a flavorful red like a Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you want go local, the gorgeous taste of Tannat from Pleasant Hill Cellars, would be lovely with duck. For a white complement to duck try a nice Riesling.

A big, bold prime rib calls for bravery and a big, bold wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Franc, Barbera or Sangiovese.

I wouldn’t recommend a white with prime rib, but for those who drink whites, also think bold with a heavily oaked, crisp Chardonnay.

Dessert wines

I recently tried a yummy Fortutious port from Lantz Cellars out of Lake Stevens that makes for a great finish to follow your meal. However, dessert wines do not always have to be a heavy port. A crisp Riesling like Dewpoint from Convergence Zone Cellars or a deep red are so very tasty. Close your eyes and imagine what would complement a crisp apple or sweet pecan pie. Of course we cannot forget the Christmas fudge, try that with a Syrah from William Grassie Wine Estates or Mt. Si Winery.

Bubbles are always a lovely ending to any party. Try adding a rose petal or a lime to enhance the experience. There are many sparkling wines out there that you can use in lieu of Brut. Treveri Cellars produces a beautiful array of sparkling options.

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