This post is sponsored by Raley’s. All opinions expressed are my own.
The holiday season is in full swing and even if you’re planning to scale-down your gatherings this year, I’m sure one of the questions on your mind is “What wine do I pair with my meal?” Whether you’re a fan of white, red, rose or sparkling, chances are you can find a perfect wine to pair with your meal. Use my Expert’s Guide to Holiday Food and Wine Pairing for every meal this holiday season. I’m offering some great recommendations of wine to pair with all of your holiday needs, all of which can be found at your local Raley’s!
The Top Rule of Food and Wine Pairings
Choose wine that you enjoy to pair with the meal you have prepared. I’m not sure there has ever been a meal ruined by an “improper” wine pairing but choose something that you would like to drink on its own. It also might be a good time to try something new!
Five Pairing Rules to Follow in Wine and Food Pairings
- Pair Salty Food with Less Acidic Wine: Salt can help to make your wine more palatable, reducing the tannic flavors and bringing out fruity notes.
- Match the Wine with the Most Prominent Flavor in your Dish: Identify the most prominent flavor in your dish including the sauce, cooking method or seasonings. Notice earthy, nutty or citrus flavors to determine the type of wine you will serve along with the dish.
- Match the Sugar Levels of your Food and Wine: Sweet foods can make bitterness comes out in most wines. Consider pairing sweeter savory dishes with a sweeter wine like Prosecco Extra Dry or Riesling.
- Pair Fatty Foods with High Acid Wines: When you’re serving something that is dripping in butter or a poultry with the skin, you’ll want to pair this with a highly acidic wine. The acidity will help to cut through the richness of the dish.
- Pair Sweet Wine with Desserts: Port, Sweet Sherry and Sauternes are all great options when it comes to dessert. These are all rather dry wines that will compliment the sweetness of your dessert.
If you want to really simplify your protein pairing, red wines go best with full-flavored meats like steak and lamb while white wines go best with fish, seafood and chicken.
The Ultimate List for Food and Wine Pairings
Many people think of champagne as a ‘celebration’ drink but it goes really well with a lot of appetizers and desserts.
- Brie, Parmesan or Gouda Cheese – Feature these on your appetizer charcuterie board!
- Stuffed Mushrooms or Potato Skins
- Berries, Pound Cake or Citrus Tarts
- Cream and Mushroom Sauces
My Champagne recommendation is Veuve Clicquot.
This tends to be a sweeter wine, although there are some rather dry varietals. The acid levels in this style of wine are lower and will offer a smoother finish.
- Almonds, Pecans or Granola
- Oysters, Scallops, Sea Bass, Trout or Duck
- Thai or Indian Flavors, BBQ
- Pumpkin Pie or Apple Pie
My Riesling recommendation is Nine Hats Riesling.
This light, crisp wine will pair well with lighter foods.
- Goat Cheese, Brie, Feta Cheese
- Chicken, Turkey, Sushi, Lighter Pasta Dishes
- Key Lime Pie, Lemon Cake, Cheese Danish
My Sauvignon Blanc recommendation is Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc.
There are a lot of different Chardonnay flavors, but many of these feature oak and butter flavors. Chardonnay pairs well with bolder food options.
- Smoked Almonds, Creamy Cheese (Havarti, Fontina, Blue Cheese)
- Chicken, Pork, Halibut, Shrimp or Lobster
- Potatoes, Herbs, Cream Sauces
- Creme Brûlée, Cheesecake
My Chardonnay recommendation is Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay.
This is actually a quite versatile wine that goes well with Mediterranean foods, anything grilled and wide variety of desserts.
- Soft Cheese, Feta, Marinated Mozzarella, Charcuterie
- Grilled Chicken, Roasted Eggplant, Salmon, Lamb, Crab Cakes
- Strawberries, Shortbreads, Dark Chocolate Truffles
My Rosé recommendation is Miraval Rosé.
This is a lighter red wine that is typically more fruit forward. Even though it is a lighter red wine, it pairs well with most meats.
- Asiago, Brie, Havarti
- Pork, Duck, Lamb
- Mushrooms, Truffle, Cinnamon and Orange
- Chocolate or White Chocolate Desserts
My Pinot Noir recommendation is La Crema Pinot Noir.
Because this wine is made in different places around the globe, it tends to have a lot of different varietals. Many times you’ll find notes of fruit in a Syrah but also a pepper taste. It will go great with spicy or International foods like Indian and Thai dishes.
- Cheddar and Pepper Jack Cheese, Aged Hard Cheese, Walnuts, Hazelnuts
- Spicy Sausage, Chorizo, Gamey Meats, Smoked Salmon, Braised Beef
- Sriracha, BBQ, Red Sauces
- Chocolate Cake, Espresso Based Desserts, Nutella
My Syrah recommendation is PlumpJack Syrah.
This wine is going to be less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon with nots of fruit and herbs.
- Parmesan, Asiago, Pecorino-Romano Cheese
- Roast Turkey, Duck, Venison, Salmon and Halibut
- Caramelized Onions, Roasted Tomatoes and Stuffed Mushrooms
- Bolognese, Red Wine Sauces, Bearnaise Sauce
- Berries and Dark Chocolate
My Merlot recommendation is Oberon Merlot.
This is a full bodied red wine with bold tannins and subtle notes of fruit. It goes perfect with beef dishes and strong cheeses.
- Aged Cheddar, Gorgonzola, Pecans
- Lamb, Beef, Venison, Elk, Ahi Tuna
- Rosemary, Brown Sauces, Red Demi-Glaze
- Chocolate Cake, Bittersweet Chocolate
My Cabernet Sauvignon recommendation is Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon.
Going vegetarian this year? Just keep in mind to choose your wine based on seasonings, sauces and the overall richness of your dish!
Balsamic and Pinot Braised Pork Shoulder
If you’re looking for a new recipe to try this holiday season, this Balsamic and Pinot Braised Pork Shoulder is the perfect meal. Serve it with mashed potatoes or polenta and roasted broccolini. Be sure to choose a Pinot that you would drink and not a cheap bottle. You’ll have better results, plus you can drink the rest of the bottle that you don’t use for cooking!
- 2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1¾ cups Pinot Noir
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
- 1 bunch fresh thyme, sprigs separated
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Season the pork generously with salt and pepper.
- In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pork and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate.
- Add the onion to the pot and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot with a spoon, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the broth, garlic, thyme and cayenne to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and return the pork to the pot. Cover the pot and simmer until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the thyme sprigs and garlic cloves and discard. Transfer the pork to a platter and set aside. Increase the heat to medium-high and continue cooking until the liquid is slightly reduced and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.
- Serve the pork warm with the sauce spooned over the top.