The holiday season is almost upon us! The owner Gerard Moser and staff of Saratoga Wine and Spirits are ready to assist you in pairing the perfect wine, cocktail, or aperitif with your holiday meal. We also can assist in choosing a nice gift.
2020 has made most of us adjust how we do things. Many people have been having smaller gathering or virtual gatherings and we have seen a trend toward specialty cocktails, liquors and wines.
The smaller gatherings and virtual happy hours have awakened our interest in the beverages or local mixologist would makes for us. Many of our customers have begun trying their hand at bartending and making cocktails. Others have begun to try some ports, sherry, brandy or cognacs.
For your pre-meal choices, old school cocktails and aperitifs like Old Fashions and whisky sours have returned in a big way! These cocktails are often poured to be smaller in size but pack big taste. A few combinations we especially like are Bourbon and blood orange and a Brandy Alexander. Aged rum is a delightful choice. Many aged rums are much more economical then equivalent whiskeys and are consumed neat or in a cocktail. We also love local eggnog with a splash of either cognac or bourbon.
Sparkling wines also make a nice aperitif. One especially versatile sparkler is Cremant - a perfect choice for both before and after dinner. Before dinner it can be served with a splash of blood orange or a cordial like Chambord. It is slightly less bubbly than traditional champagnes and is also a good choice after dinner to aid digestion. Or take a step back and serve a Lambrusco.
While wine and food pairing is neither an exact science nor are there concrete rules, we can make some suggestions for your holiday parties and meals. Red wines are an excellent choice with turkey. Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Syrah, Grenache and even Zinfandel are some of our favorites. Try an Oregon Pinot Noir.
Turkey lends itself to many different preparations. Many choose a traditionally roasted style. If you lean toward savory recipes with some spice you can pair it either with Pinot Noir or a French Burgundy. If you are roasting a turkey without a stuffing and with a light rub of fresh herbs served with simple roasted vegetables try light Beaujolais.
You can also try deboning a turkey and applying a dry rub of spices. Either you or a butcher can roll and tie the turkey. You can then grill it until it forms a crust then wrap it in foil and cook slowly on the grill or oven. This preparation nicely pairs with a Syrah. I have prepared it this way with softened dry fruit and some nuts as a stuffing. In this case you could serve a low alcohol Zinfandel or Grenache. Lower alcohol Zinfandel and Grenache wines will have a slight sweetness that will pair well with the sweetness of the dry fruit.
When paring wine with dinner you might even consider the side dishes you plan to serve rather than how the turkey itself is prepared. If they are on the sweeter side such as candy sweet potatoes you might consider either a Zinfandel or a Grenache. If they are on the spicier side like a dry rubbed roasted butternut squash you might consider either Syrah or Pinot Noir.
Not all of us serve turkey. When serving beef roast or game, we suggest Cabernet and Bordeaux to complement the beef and game. We also recommend Sangiovese wines and blends. Malbec is a great choice as well: Customers say they are “easy drinking” and appeal to a variety of tastes.
If your holiday meals are vegetarian, Beaujolais, Chardonnays or Vouvray are excellent choices when preparing hearty roasted root vegetables. Rieslings or Gewürztraminer wines also nicely complement many vegetable dishes that feature a spice finish.
Enticing your guests to try something new can add to the holiday festivities. It is a great time of year to create your own virtual cocktail and cordial tasting. You all may discover you enjoy something you thought you would never like!
Remember, when it comes to wine and food, there are no rules especially in 2020- 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!