Ahhh, it’s that time of year again. All those drunken family get-togethers, work events, neighborhood gatherings all filled with merriment, dancing, and probably a decent amount of debauchery. Holidays? Heck, that was my last weekend.
The holidays can be a very stressful time. Maybe you have to think of an excuse for skipping out on the family gathering featuring Aunt Jan’s dry-assed turkey and hideous green bean casserole. Perhaps you’re trying to figure out how to show your face at work after hitting on your manager’s husband. Or maybe you’re having a tough time choosing between a vacuum cleaner or microwave oven as a Christmas gift for your girlfriend.
That very same girlfriend who’s expecting to become your fiancée. (Hint: the answer is neither.)
Whatever your source of stress, deciding what kind of wine to bring shouldn’t be one of them. Lucky for you, I have formal sommelier training, retail beverage experience, and a few thousand hangovers under my belt.
Why wine? Scotch or another other hard liquor is a good choice when you want to impress, but doesn’t pair well with turkey. I love beer so much that I’ll often reach for one of those before wine, but Hanukkah isn’t the time to show off your skinny-jeans wearing hipster cred by bringing a six pack of PBR.
Even if you’re into high-end microbrews, leave the cooler of beer for the 4th of July drunkfest at the lake. You need something classy. Bring wine – it pairs well with food and tells your host that you care enough to spend ten bucks on them.
Here are my suggestions for what wines to bring to different occasions. These are only types of wine to bring, not actual brands. I could give you suggestions on specific wineries and vintages, but I’d hate to suggest one only to have it not be available where you live. Unless, of course, you’re a winemaker who’s willing to send me some freebies in exchange for a kind word. I’m looking at you, Dom Perignon.
The roasted turkey is the headliner of the show and that’s easy enough to pair to. But all the fixings have a lot of different herbs and spices that make for some strong and varied flavors. I like to go with a Zinfandel or Syrah, full-bodied, fruity reds that will hold up to the turkey, but have enough spice to handle all the other flavors. A Chardonnay would work great with mash potatoes, but that’s about it. If you want to go white, go for Champagne or some other dry sparkling white.
If you’re a vegetarian who loves Tofu-rkey, I’m not sure I can help you.
I’m not sure ANYONE can help you. I tried it once and once I got past the gag reflex, my stomach was churning all night. In that case, maybe the bubbles in Champagne might have helped.
I have a bunch of Jewish friends, but not one of them has invited me to Hanukkah dinner, so I needed Google to tell me that a common meal consists of beef brisket and latkes. (I didn’t need Google to tell me that I need to find some nicer Jewish friends.) I’m betting a Merlot would be the way to go. Or if there’s a lot of vinegar in the sauce, the prominent acids in Champagne would hold up well.
But for the love of Abraham, don’t buy this
There are some great Kosher wines from Israel, look for those.
Work Holiday Party
If you work at a place that requires you to bring your own wine, then the recommendation here is to find a different place of work. ‘Nuff said.
Who doesn’t like baked ham on Christmas? This guy (points with thumbs). Because of my Asian upbringing, our Christmas dinners were not like yours. That scene in “A Christmas Story” where the family goes to a Chinese restaurant for dinner? Heaven.
But any time we had dinner with non-Asians, it was almost always ham. I usually go with a Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais, lighter reds that won’t overpower the meat. If you’re rocking the Kung Pao chicken, a German riesling is your best bet. And, you guessed it, Champagne goes with either.
This is a weeklong celebration of African culture and ancestry, where every night is a great feast. The challenge here is that the food ranges from Caribbean cuisine to Southern soul food to traditional African fare. Even if you can narrow it down to “African,” that’s a huge frickin’ continent with all kinds of yummy food. Screw it, bring Champagne. The added bonus – spilling it on your clothes won’t show up.
Then again, not much would show up.
New Years Eve
You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?
If I missed any holidays or if you have any other wine pairings, please leave a comment below. If you’re Dom Perignon, please leave a case on my front porch.
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