The food is simmering, the desserts are baking, the wine is…wait, who was supposed to get the wine? Patch anticipated your last-minute dash to the local beer and wine store and we’ve assembled a quick-n-dirty guide to picking the perfect beverage for your holiday gathering.
When it comes to holiday meals, there are some wines that have stood the test of time, according to LaLa Tehrani, owner of Quench! Beer and Wine in the Colesville neighborhood. For a traditional feast of ham or turkey, Pinot noir, Zinfandel and Shiraz are the red wine stalwarts, she said. For white, the go-tos are “Riesling, Gewürztraminers and sometimes Sauvignon Blanc,” Tehrani said.
“In the past years, some other varietals are becoming popular here,” Tehrani said. “A very good white alternative will be the Grüner, which is an Austrian white wine. Really nice, goes with almost anything--you can serve it from appetizer to dessert.”
For a different red, try Spain’s latest import, Tempranillo wine, said Tehrani.
“It’s a nice, juicy, chewy red that will go well with ham; it will go well with prime rib,” she advised.
Someone discovered how to pair chocolate and wine—in the same bottle—and this deserves its own category.
“One newcomer to the holiday wines I found is chocolate wine,” said Tehrani. “There are two kinds: there’s the creamy kind, so it actually feels like you’re drinking chocolate, and then there’s the non-creamy which is like more wine with some chocolate added to it.
“It’s the creamy chocolate wine that has taken off,” she said. The drink is rich, Tehrani said, so don’t try to pair it with food. Sip it before or after dinner, or even as a dessert.
“You don’t need to have a slice of cake or pie with it,” she said.
Yes, you can bring beer. No, you can’t buy Bud Lite:
Tehrani says not to count out a classy lager for your fancy dinners, especially when some varieties at Quench! sell for as much as $25 a bottle.
“There are some really expensive beers out there,” she said. “They pop like champagne. They have beautiful presentation.”
For something that you can sip throughout the day, go for a winter ale or Christmas brew, which many breweries release this time of year, according to Tehrani.
“There are Christmas ales which are truly Christmas in a bottle,” she said. “We have some selections that you drink it and you’re like ‘Oh my God, it’s the holiday season.’ They use a lot of holiday spices like cinnamons and nutmegs, and things like coriander.” (It won’t be hard to find the Christmas ales at your local store—they’ve all got names like Yule Tide and the Mad Elf.)
For beer to pair with your meal, go for a blond or wheat variety with turkey or chicken, Tehrani recommends. For red meat, “a hoppy IPA,” she said.
Add a little pop to your New Year:
Sparking wine is still the king of the New Year, said Tehrani.
“New Year’s is all about the sparkles—all about sparking wine,” she said, “We sell a lot of champagne on New Year’s.”
While genuine champagne, that is, made in the champagne region of France, can be pretty expensive, sparkling wines come in all price points, Tehrani said. For the most genuine of sparkling wines, look for méthode champenoise on the label, she recommends, which means that the champagne method was used.
What wines, beers or other beverages are you planning to serve at your holiday meal?
This article was originally published on Colesville Patch on Dec. 23, 2011.