Good company, good food, and of course, good wine. What better way to celebrate the holidays than with a bottle of one of the magnificent wines available today. Enjoy the distinctive tastes of merlot and cabernet, sip the cold and flavorful white wines, like Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, and for dessert, try a nice sweet wine served ice cold.
There are literally hundreds and hundreds of varieties of wine, as remarkably different as the artful bottles that hold the wine. It is said, however, that there are eight major varieties of wine, including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, for the reds, and Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites.
Here's a Rundown on What to Look For
• German Riesling is sometimes considered the forgotten wine and not thought of as a dinner wine. But if you know how to serve it and what to serve it with, it can be one of the most refreshing wines, often said to be one of the world's greatest food wines. Pairing it with poultry and fish has long been a recommended match, but some people may be surprised to know that it also goes incredibly well with spicy foods, such as Mexican and Thai. When we think of Riesling, we think of sweet, but it can also be dry, or less sweet with just enough refreshing acidity to balance it out.
• Another white wine that is one of America's favorites is Chardonnay, the wine that made California famous. There are as many flavors of Chardonnay as there are lights on a Christmas tree, and flavors vary depending on how it is barreled. If it's barreled in stainless steel the wine can be light and refreshing. If barreled in oak, it is said to have an earthy, rich buttery flavor, full of life. Serve it chilled and pair it with poultry, fish, pasta dishes, or try pairing it with your favorite foods. This is a food-friendly wine and would make a good addition to your holiday menu. Besides pairing up wonderfully with your turkey dinner, it is also great with vegetables and dishes that require a lot of herbs. Chill and serve at your next holiday get-together.• White wine is a matter of taste. Try an aromatic wine with an earthy, citrus flavor like Sauvignon Blanc. Be sure to chill all of your white wines at least 20 minutes, 90 for dessert wines.
Now for the Reds
• Merlot is a favorite for any red wine drinker. It is said to be one of the most versatile wines and should not be served chilled for more than ten minutes. This is a stout wine that also needs to breathe. Open the bottle and let it set for at least 20 minutes or serve it from a decanter. It is always recommended that you have a bottle or two on hand for holiday gatherings.
• Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with meat, but try it with other dishes. Host a wine tasting long before guests arrive and find the perfect match. Better yet, have some of each on hand and let the parties roll. When writing your holiday menu you may want to choose a few more delectable varieties of wine, such as Shiraz, Syrah and Zinfandel. All of the red wines need to breath. Most people like it room temperature, or just slightly cooled.
• Keep in mind that foods are meant to be paired with whatever you like, but remember red wine in general has more tannin than white wine, and salty foods will accentuate a wine's tannin and vice versa. Tannin is the bitter properties found in the skin and seeds of grapes, generally red. Generally speaking, proteins will calm this tannic level in wines and will be a good complement to this type of food.
If you are serving salty dishes at your gathering, you may want to keep in mind that salty food will diminish the flavor of sweet wines, making it a perfect match while allowing the fruity attributes of the wine to come through. Foods with a fruity flavor may best be served with a fruity wine or even dessert. And stout reds might be a better choice for appetizers of crackers, bread and cheeses. Explore your options.
Whether you're planning an office party, an appetizer gathering with the girls, or a full- fledged Christmas dinner, don't forget the wine. And since there are so many tastes in wine, have a variety of whites and reds. Then you can't go wrong.
Wine Makes a Great Gift, too!
Put together a basket with a bottle of white and a bottle of red wine, some crackers and cheese, and a cork screw, wrap it all up, or just put a bow on it, and you've given a ready-made party to the receiver of your gift.
You can also get beautiful wine bags at specialty shops, add a bow, and give the gift of love. Because, wine is meant to be shared with friends, it's a gift that your friends or relatives will love.
During the holidays have a wine tasting party at your home. Serve a variety of appetizers that will pair with the variety of wines that you'll serve, and let your guests sample and pair as they choose.
Make it a Great Holiday This Year!
Don't let the holidays slip away before you've planned your next get together. Write a list of what needs to be done and what food and wine needs to be gathered, set a date, then call your friends. Now that you know a little about wine; pairing it, cooling it, and letting it breath, you're an expert, and your party can only be a success. Whether it's a small gathering or a celebration with family and friends, this is the season to be jolly--this is the season for fine wine. Relax and enjoy the holidays!
About the Author: Angela Lytle is a self-employed mother of four and publisher of Christmas Decorations Online a website featuring holiday decorations from Artificial Christmas Trees for your home to Outdoor Christmas Lights to brighten up your holiday display.