From the Wine Cave


With snow filling the air, and the winter chill setting in it’s time to begin thinking about the holiday entertaining. With so many selections of still, sparkling and sweet wines to choose from, wouldn’t it be great if there was a magical formula for someone to do all the wine pairing and suggestions for you?

This holiday season, I don’t really have a magical formula to match the perfect wine with the perfect food, but here are a few tips you might find helpful as you are making your selections. This season, stay true to what you believe in and what you like. If you are interested in branching out and trying something new, explore the possibilities below.

Category: Unoaked, Light Bodied, Refreshingly Simple Dry White Wines

Wines: Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc (New World), Orvieto, Soave Classico and Vinho Verde.

Pairs well with: Light Pasta, Picnic Foods, Cold Cuts, Asian Foods, Latin Foods, Light Appetizers, Seafood and shellfish with Light sauces: Risotto Milanese, Fettuccine Alfredo, Poached Dover Sole, Fish and Chip, Deep Fried Calamari, Steamed Mussels, and Vegetarian Based Dishes including Avocado with Vinaigrette, Falafel, Steamed Asparagus and Hummus. Also try with mild cheeses such as fresh Goat or Sheep, Mozzarella and Caerphilly.

Category: Unoaked, Fruity, Medium-Bodied Dry White Wines

Wines: Chablis, Chardonnay (New World), Cotes du Rhone Blanc, Fiano, Greco du Tufo, Pinot Grigio, Pouilly Fuisse, Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), Soave Classico, Verdicchio de Castelli di Jesi, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Viognier and Vouvray.

Pairs well with: Chicken Soup, French Onion Soup, Lobster Bisque, Nicoise Salad, Braised or Roasted Fennel, Onion tart, Pumpkin/Winter Squash, Chicken Risotto, Pasta Primavera, Ceviche, Fried Shrimp, Grilled skate, Seared Scallops, Barbecued Pork Ribs, Duck. Cheeses include Mozzarella, Pecorino, Ricotta and Cream Cheese.

Category: Rich, Elegant, Often Oaky Dry White Wines

Wines: California Chardonnay, Chablis Grand Cru, Condrieu (Viognier), New World Chardonnay from Australia or South America, and White Meritage.

Pairs well with: Lobster Bisque, Tomato Soup, New England Clam Chowder, Corn on the Cob, Gnocchi, Pasta Carbonara, Lobster Pate, Smoked Salmon Pate, Grilled Tuna, Oysters Rockefeller, Smoked Trout, Chicken Kiev, Jerk Pork, Smoked Ham, Roast Quail, and for cheeses, Fontina, Gouda, Jarlsberg, and Smoked varieties.

Category: Medium Sweet to Dramatically Sweet Wines

Wines: New World Riesling, Riesling Beerenauslese, Vin Santo, Riesling Auslese, Tokaji Aszu.

Pairs well with: Chutney, Cream Soups, Gazpacho, Duck Pate, Freshwater Trout, Prosciutto and Cheese include: Cheddar, Danish Blue, Gorgonzola, Monterey Jack, Stilton and Roquefort. Desserts include: Fresh Pears, Crème Brule, Baked Apples, Cheesecake and Tiramisu.

The world of red wine, offers as many possibilities as does the world of whites.

WC_cannonau_lab_smCategory: Young, Fresh Light Reds

Wines: Gamay, Rioja, Valpolicella Classico, Cannonau di Sardegna, Dolcetto, Rosso di Montepulciano, New World Pinot Noir, Chianti, and Merlot.

Pairs well with: Beef Barley Soup, Lentil Soup, Lasagna, Pasta with Pesto, Broiled Shark, Grilled Halibut, Chicken Pie, Cold Roast Beef, and Roast Pork. For Cheeses try Asiago, Feta, Jarlsberg, Munster and Reblochon.

Category: Warmer Climate, Medium to Full Bodied Red

Wines: Portugese Red Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet and Merlot Blends, Cotes du Rhone Rouge, Chianti Rufina, Sicily, and Chianti Classico.

Pairs well with: Barbeque Sauce, Game Soups, Lentil Soups, Grilled Vegetables, Vegetable Lasagna, Paella, Pizza, Spaghetti Bolognese, Tortellini, Duck Pate, Roast Chicken, Beef Goulash, Cassoulet, Irish Stew, Pot Roast, Rabbit and for cheeses, Pecorino, Provolone and Aged Gouda.

Category: Sweet Red Wines

Wines: Brachetto d Acqui, Late Harvest Zinfandel, Recioto della Valpolicella

Pairs well with: Cheesecake, Vanilla Ice Cream, and sharp cheeses such as Parmigianino Reggiano.

Whether you are entertaining or just matching food and wine, the opportunities are limitless. Take time to try a new adventure and experience how a perfect pairing can create lasting memories. Remember when experimenting with new pairings, sip the wine first then try it with the dish. You will find the wine will transform the food and hopefully you will discover your “magical formula” for the future.

Kimberly Fisher is the Director of Fine Wine sales for Badger Liquor – Wine & Spirits

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