The holiday season is right around the corner, and the owners and staff of Saratoga Wine and Spirits are ready to assist you in pairing the perfect wine with your holiday meal.
We always recommend that first and foremost you drink what you like. Wine Spectator agrees, suggesting you choose a wine that you would like on its own, independent of the meal with which it is served. This advice sounds obvious, but sometimes the myriad food and wine pairing “suggestions” bog us down with rules rather than opening up possibilities. Don’t be afraid to experiment to discover your own favorite combinations.
While wine and food pairing is neither an exact science nor are there concrete rules, we can make some suggestions. Often pairings emphasize opposing taste profiles (sweet and sour; fruity and dry). We often do this with food by adding spicy sausage to a stuffing, which will contrast and enhance the mild flavor of the turkey; the same strategy can work with wine and food pairings. Generally speaking, wine should be sweeter than the food it accompanies – but it is subjective: What is sweet to one palate will not read the same to another. This is one reason why Saratoga Wine and Spirits hosts weekly wine tastings – join us, and discover your new favorite varietal!
Traditionally prepared turkey with thyme, sage and cranberry do well with fruit-forward Zinfandels such as Rosenblum. A Grenache-based wine is always a great choice: Chateaunuf de Pape is one of our best sellers because it beautifully complements traditional fare. If you are looking for a contrast, the spice of a Syrah may balance and enhance the herbs and velvet gravy; for a different pop, try a full-bodied Rosé.
Traditional meals also nicely pair with Chardonnays, such as a Petite Chablis, a full-bodied white with some acidity. Many of our customers love a full-body domestic Pinot Grigio or medium body Italian Pinot Grigio - both delicious possibilities that add a bit of fruitiness and acidity to a meal. Rieslings such as Trimbach are also excellent choices, and Saratoga Wine and Spirits carries labels from the very dry to those with an elegant sweetness - there is a Riesling for every palate!
Let’s not forget that many of us like to bring a little individuality to traditional meals, and experiment with fried, smoked, or barbecue turkey, and a variety of less traditional side dishes, like roasted root vegetables finished with a Cajun spice, or horseradish-infused, whipped sweet potatoes. Each variation is punctuated by different spices, and will differently pair with wines across a spectrum of fruity, bold, dry, spicy, medium body or full body.
For example, unlike what the name implies, fried turkey is lower in fat due to the steam layer that repels absorption of the cooking oil. You will find that the turkey will have increased moisture, and because it will not hold spices like a roasted turkey, the flavor will be more intense and cleaner. With more subdued spices, we look to wines with structure, but that will not overwhelm the turkey, so let’s not forget the sparkle! Hard cider and sparkling wines, such as Tattingers Champagne or Abbese Rose` Cremant, are very popular, complement dishes like fried turkey, and make a fun and refreshing addition to your holiday table. New to Saratoga Wine and Spirits is Saratoga Apple Hard Cider – fast becoming a customer favorite. We also carry a variety of Prosecco and Cava, Italian and Spanish sparkling wines. Smoked or barbeque turkey turns us in yet another direction, with Sangiovese-based “Super Tuscans,” Rioja, and Malbec enhancing the depth of smoky and barbeque flavors.
When serving roast beef or game, we suggest Cabernet and Bordeaux to complement the stronger flavors of these meats. This year also saw the return of Merlot. Today’s Merlots are not like the Merlots of the 90s, which tended to be overly fruity. Saratoga Wine and Spirits carries Merlots with complexity and depth, such as Greystone, a customer favorite.
Remember, when it comes to wine and food, there are no rules - only suggestions. Experiment with food and wine pairings this holiday season, and design your signature twist on the merriment!
From all of us at Saratoga Wine and Spirits, we wish you all a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season. We look forward to helping you discover a new taste to ring in the season!