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Best Wines to Enjoy with Your Christmas Dinner

With so many dishes being served at the Christmas dinner table, how does one narrow down on the wine to be served? Find out all about the best pairings with your Christmas dinner from the following Buzzle article.
Best wines for Christmas dinner
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Thanksgiving's over, and with Christmas underway, it's time to gear up and prepare for another lavish feast. However, besides all the elbow grease involved in preparing the decadent delights, it's also important to focus upon which wines are to be served with the food. Food and wine need to be married well, or else you're asking for chaos at the dinner table. If not paired well, you'll have the food and wine wrestling with each other, trying to overshadow rather than complement one another.

To make things even more complex, there isn't an ideal wine that you can serve for Christmas. Food and wine pairing is an art that doesn't have rights and wrongs. Except the extremely wrong choices, pairing them is all about personal preference. So, rather than trying to figure out the perfect pairing, focus on flavors in the food, like the sauces and spices used and the flavor profile of the wine. It's important that the wine you choose complements the whole dish, and not just the meat. Let's take a closer look at some wines that are sure to complement your Christmas dinner well.

Best Christmas Wines

A traditional Christmas dinner is lavish and elaborate involving a large number of flavors and textures. Finding one suitable wine to complement these dishes is difficult, so the safest option would be to serve a little of various wines, which will also satiate different palates. In this Buzzle article, we'll not only take a look at some reds and whites that you can serve during dinner, but also check out which wines can be served as aperitifs, and along with desserts.

Before Dinner: Sparkling Wines

While champagne is the most favored festive drink, its high-end prices are off-putting, especially for those of us who're hosting a number of relatives this Christmas season. Thankfully, there are various affordable alternatives to champagne that you can serve to spearhead the festive cheer.

christmas sparkling wine

French Crémant

This bubbly also happens to be from France, although not from the famous 'Champagne' region. Nevertheless, these sparklers also undergo the same making process, including the second fermentation process that champagne undergoes. Their good acidity and creamy, rich feel on the palate make these fizzy wines a wonderful aperitif choice for Christmas. What's even better is that you pay way lesser than you would have to for their pricier French cousin.

Spanish Cava

This sparkler from Spain is also made using the same procedure as that of Champagne. In fact, if you taste this effervescent wine variety, you're sure to fall in love with it. You can either serve the white variety or the attractive pink sparkler―Cava Rosé or Rosado, whose pink color looks extremely festive and Christmas-sy in flute glasses.

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The Italian Prosecco, Portuguese Espumante, German Sekt, and New World sparkling wines are also lovely fizzy wines that you can serve. The Spanish Pedro Ximénez is also favored by many as an aperitif.

During the Meal: Reds & Whites

Since the lunch or dinner table is going to be loaded with all kinds of sumptuous delights, it's best to offer a mixed range of wines to suit different palates. Present both reds and whites, because they will complement a whole range of flavors and won't overpower any aspect of the meal.

Medium-bodied Reds

While many prefer to have their stuffed turkey as the Christmas dinner centerpiece, others like to present their clove-studded holiday ham, lamb racks, roast beef, or even goose at this holiday fiesta. Heavy-bodied reds with high tannin content like Cabernet Sauvignon are not preferred because they're too complex for poultry.

Christmas red wine

Pinot Noir

If you're having ham, then this medium-bodied wine is perfect because it complements its mild flavors well. A full-bodied, highly acidic wine will overshadow the subtle flavors of the ham. A fruity Pinot Noir, on the other hand, complements the sweetness of a honey-glazed ham exceptionally well. Then again, its vibrant acidity also helps accentuate the flavors and juiciness of the turkey or goose, making it a suitable companion for both the bird and the hog.

Merlot

Known for its soft tannins, medium-bodied Merlot pairs wonderfully with chicken, turkey, goose, and even ham. It also goes exceptionally well with a rack of roasted lamb, and can even complement roast beef. If you are serving caramelized vegetables as a side dish, then this wine is sure to accentuate its flavor.

Shiraz

The Australian Shiraz is a dry red wine variety that has plum, raspberry, and blackberry flavor to it, with notes of black pepper, tar, oak, mint, and smoke. This dark, almost black-colored, medium-bodied wine not only complements turkey and goose well, but also pairs wonderfully with red meat.

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Beaujolais Nouveau, Tempranillo, or red Zinfandels are also good options. If you're serving roast beef, you can serve full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, or red Zinfandel, to complement it with their high tannins.

Aromatic Whites

Since an elaborate Christmas dinner entails rich flavors, you need full-bodied whites to complement this holiday meal well.

white wine with turkey

Sauvignon Blancs

This crisp, dry white wine with herbaceous notes pairs excellently with turkey and its savory side dishes. It acts as a palate cleanser, washing down every morsel ingested and preparing you for the next morsel of flavorful food. This light- to medium-bodied wine also complements goose very well. While its ultimate variety is that from France, even the Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand and California are wonderful.

Riesling

This crisp, light white wine goes very well with the honey-glazed ham. Since it comes with a touch of residual sugar, it pairs well with the sweetness of the ham's glaze. Moreover, a highly aromatic German Riesling also complements goose and turkey well. In fact, this wine is also touted for its food-friendly nature and its well-balanced sweetness and acidity that pair well with many sauces.

Gewürztraminer

If your ham has been spiced up, then a Gewürztraminer is a lovely match, because the spicy notes of this wine complement the spices in the ham beautifully. With spicy fruit flavors, this full-bodied white wine also complements red meat very well. So, if you're having roast beef this Christmas, here's your bold white!

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Chardonnays are also popularly picked white wines; however, you can also take a look at the sweeter Pinot Grigio or Viognier to serve during dinner.

After the Meal: Dessert Wines

To continue with the extravagance and profusion of the day, serve a lovely dessert wine along with your favorite holiday dessert.

Christmas dessert wine

Pedro Ximénez

There's nothing more perfect than ending the Christmas blast with an equally rich liquid Christmas delight―Pedro Ximénez. Considered to be the best Spanish dessert wine, this sweet sherry has the ability to tackle almost any Christmas dessert, be it the rich and nutty Christmas pudding or the sweet treacle tart, or any other dessert. This dark, luscious, sticky, sweet sherry complements the sweetness and stickiness of rich puddings perfectly. You can also add this wine into the Christmas pudding to heighten its flavor.

Liqueur Muscat

Again, like our Spanish dessert wine, this wine also tastes like liquidized Christmas pudding. Its dark brown color and rich flavors of nuts, dry fruits, and spices feel like you are drinking your mom's pudding. However, its sweetness is well-balanced by its acidity, which gives it a lovely, fruity freshness. This sweet, medium-bodied dessert wine also complements desserts prepared with dark chocolate beautifully.

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How about an ice-cold sparkler like an Italian Asti with your dessert? It is light and bubbly, and is also a great way to end the feast.

While pairing wines with food, just remember the simple rule that your wine should complement the dish served, and not overpower it or get overshadowed by the dish itself. Understand the flavors of your dish, the spices and glazes added, and also the flavor profile of the wine. Above all, if you know what you like, go ahead and serve it this Christmas.
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Published: December 6, 2013
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