I recall in my formal wine education days I had an instructor that seriously remarked any wine goes at Christmas as guests are so tanked up before the real dining starts they’ll drink anything! I never subscribed to that point of view.
Christmas dinner preparation can be backbreaking and unless you’ve been involved in preparing such a dinner it could be a situation of gross underappreciation by those savouring your feast.
Wine selection can be stressful as after a mammoth effort of food preparation you don’t want to ruin all the work with opening an expensive bottle of Barolo Uncle Giuseppe gave you ten years ago. Barolo and roast turkey kill each other!
But there is no ideal match but rather many possible good ones but even then one is circumscribed by what is available on the market which in Ontario at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario Vintages Section is for the holiday season overly expensive wines that reek of a sense of prosperity that doesn’t match many realities. Ideally one should plan wine selection months before. I would like to match roast turkey and all the trimmings with an Encruzado from Portugal’s Dão region but it hits the shelves only rarely.
So let’s go ahead with some wine pairing suggestions.
The First Course:
Oka, Camembert and aged Canadian Cheddar, spiced olives, paté de campagne, almonds, figs, homemade cherry preserves.
Your white wine suggestion: Chateau Ste Michelle 2020 Columbia Valley Chardonnay
Gold in colour redolent with aromas of pear, pineapple, mango and tangerine. How is that for fun! On the palate this wine is smooth with mango, peach and a nifty little swath of butterscotch leaving a lingering finish. The American and French oak compliment the Chardonnay and do not hijack it.
(Chateau Ste Michelle 2020 Columbia Valley Chardonnay, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Paterson & Woodinville, Washington, $20.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 232439)
The Main Course:
Roast organic turkey with traditional bread, onion, celery, savoury salt and pepper dressing with butternut squash lightly flavoured with nutmeg, green beans with toasted almonds, mashed potatoes with Brussel sprouts. Pan broiled gravy with vegetable waters and white vermouth. Boil the hell out of it to reduce the vegetable waters!
Your white wine selection:
If you are feeling extravagant you could spend $47.80 for a Two Sisters 2017 Riesling from Niagara-on-the-Lake. I suppose $47.80 for the 2017 Riesling can be considered a treat that is worth it. On the nose apple, pear, musk melon and marzipan. On the palate there is a degree of tartness I have come to expect from an Ontario Riesling but it is gentle as well as its acidity which is not in your face but lurking discretely in the background. More apple, pear and some guava. Moderate finish. And it suits turkey to a tee. I must say for this price German Riesling offers much better value.
You’ll have to order from the winery. Now if you would rather spend $19.95 you can defer to a Vineland Estates St. Urban Riesling somewhat similar in style to the Two Sisters but at more than half the price! There is good supply at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s stores.
(Two Sisters 2017 Riesling, VQA Niagara Escarpment, Two Sisters Vineyards, Niagara-on-the-Lake, $47.80, 750 mL, 10.2%, RKS Wine Rating 89/100).
Your red wine suggestion:
If you like lathering on cranberry sauce I would try and match the fruitiness of the cranberry sauce with a bit of a quirky old school Foch. (Malivoire Albert’s Honour Old Vines Foch 2020, VQA Ontario, The Malivoire Wine Company Limited, Beamsville, Ontario, $26.95, 12%, 750 mL, RKS Wine Rating 89/100). You’ll have to order this wine from the winery.
Your Rosé wine suggestion
If you can find a firm rosé like the Featherstone Estate 2021 Rosé from Niagara you have an ideal match for roast turkey and all the trimmings. Generally speaking the darker pink the better.
It has a dark pink colour. A beguiling aroma of red cherries, raspberries and strawberries. On the palate loads of cherry, raspberry and hints of raspberry Jello. A solid no nonsense fruit forward rosé with a moderate finish. Ideal for sipping on a hot summer day and a great match for grilled goat or lamb. If you can stash a few away for colder months this would be a stellar match for a Christmas ham with scalloped potatoes or a roast turkey. (Featherstone Rosé 2021, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Featherstone Estate Winery, Vineland, Ontario, Canada, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 117861, $15.95, 13%, 750 mL, RKS Wine Rating 94/100).
Your sparkling wine suggestion:
Produced by the tank method. On the nose loads of strawberry, raspberry with BC cherry. On the palate a nice acidic bite but more than a bite it also has fruit with a strong undercurrent, brief as it may be, of Niagara cherries that bring a tiny hit of sweetness before it snaps back into a dry mode with a barely discernible wave of freshly squeezed Orri tangerine juice. This may match a Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey.
(Konzleman Méthode Cuve Close Sparkling Rosé, VQA Ontario, $19.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 184176, 750 mL,12%, RKS Wine Rating 89/100).
A selection of Greek pastries including baklava, melopita, melomakarona and kourabiiethes. The first three have a noticeable honey framework. I can think of no better wine than a Greek Muscat Vin Doux from Samos. Alternatively a J&B Scotch Whisky toned down with a few drops of water which will smooth out the burn you would experience if it was served neat.
The Vin Doux has aromas of apricot, peach, honey and marmalade. On the palate it is silky smooth bursting with exactly what is on the nose! Acidity is way back there. A long finish and at 15% alcohol there is no burn.
If you are starting a meal with some “nibbles” like nuts, dried figs or apricots and soft cheeses with apricot or peach jam to coat the cheese it might work well.
It should be served slightly chilled.
(Samos Vin Doux $13.25, LCBO # 38931, 750 mL, 15%)
Water and ice really smooth out J&B but with a few drops of filtered or spring water water the heat on the palate is somewhat greater and the finish a tad longer than J&B over the rocks. The aromatic profile is identical to J&B over the rocks with a more pronounced apricot on the nose.
Ice and water for J&B tone down the burn and make for a smoother drink but reduce the complexity and length of finish over J&B neat. A classic trade-off with scotch whisky neat compared with scotch whisky over the rocks or with water.
(J&B Rare Blended Scotch Whisky $29.45, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 2360)