I asked a famous Italian winemaker how she had chosen the wine and food pairing for a special dinner. She laughed and said: “Don’t be silly, you shouldn’t pair wine with food; pair wine with an affair, a situation. I chose this wine because we’re strangers and this wine is complex enough to create conversation.” With this romantic notion in mind, here is your guide to pairing wine with whatever holiday affair you have ahead...
Meeting the Family | Dinner with the In-Laws
Photo courtesy of Charles Krug
Choose a quality wine with a relevant story. Charles Krug Generations ($50) is perfect in family situations, as everything from the name of the wine to the history associated with Krug (the first winery in Napa Valley and original Mondavi property) will open the door to conversations about family and history.
Ca’ Momi’s Merlot and Cab is also family made. They also have a fantastic restaurant you can visit with your family.
Photo courtesy of Hourglass
Look for a bold wine that doesn't break the bank and shows that you valued the relationship. Hourglass Blueline Merlot ($75) fits the bill because it’s reasonably priced, classy, and the name lends itself to a conversation about the sands of time and other analogies for the end of a relationship.
Alternately, consider an Inniskillin Ice Wine. They're tough to pair, but sweet and balanced.
Photo courtesy of Parallel
Parallel wines Black Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon ($125) is velvety and as smooth as you should be if you’re trying to make amends. We also recommend O’Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon ($80) because this sexy wine tastes of chocolate, roses and spice.
Holiday Potluck | Gathering with Friends
Photo courtesy of Amici
Go with a food-friendly conversation starter that is reasonably priced because you won't know what else will be on the table (or if you'll get a sip of it). Try Amici Cellars Napa Cabernet ($40), it pairs easily and “Amici” means “friends.”
Copain’s “Les Voisins” Pinot Noir ($42) is another easy pairing and it's apropriate as the French name means “neighbors.”
Trying to Impress | Dinner with the Boss
Photo courtesy of Duxoup
Spend the bucks on a cult wine or try something unusual and new. Few have heard of "Gamay Noir" or tried Duxoup’s Gamay Noir from Dry Creek ($15) so you can surprise with a classy, local curveball. Your bases are covered with dusty notes and softness found in older wines and the vibrancies of a fruity Pinot Noir.
An affordable yet fantastic non-California option is Arnaldo-Caprai Collepiano, Sagrantino di Montefalco ($60).
New Year's Eve
Photo Courtesy of Buena Vista Winery
For posh glitter and shine, go with JCB.