Last time in Bristol Wine Blog, I looked at sparkling wines to welcome your family, friends or guests when they visit over the holiday season.
Now, my thoughts turn to wines to match the food and I’m going to focus on the main course. So, where to start? Turkey, obviously! Turkey, itself, is very wine friendly and would work well with almost any dryish wine – white or red. The problem comes with some of the traditional accompaniments; bread sauce, cranberry sauce, chipolata sausages and stuffing all present their own problems – and that’s before you consider the ultimate wine-killer: brussel sprouts. My view would be to go for either a big white – an oaked Chardonnay or Rhône, perhaps – or a really fruity red, say a New World Merlot or Syrah/Shiraz. Either way, I would leave my best bottles for another time – there are simply too many conflicting flavours on the plate for a fine wine to show at its best.
But not everyone will be having turkey; if you’re having beef or game, the decision is rather easier and, in most cases, will involve a good quality, fairly robust red – Bordeaux, Burgundy, California or wherever your preference lies.
And let’s not forget our vegetarian friends; many vegetarian options are really wine friendly. Aubergine-, lentil- or mushroom-based dishes all work well with not-too-heavy reds – try something from Southern France or a nice Rioja. The creaminess of a risotto would be brilliant with a creamy white – a Mâcon-Villages, perhaps – while spinach dishes need a red with plenty of acidity, such as a good Valpolicella.
The key with whatever you’re eating is to try and match the strongest flavour – that may be the sauce or one of the side ingredients, rather than the main – and also to consider how ‘big’ the flavours are on the plate; don’t overpower delicate foods with a chunky wine or drown subtle wines with strongly flavoured dishes.
And, above all, remember rule no1 of food and wine matching: there are no rules; drink wine you like, not the wine someone tells you is right for the dish.