By Jessica Estrada | November 6, 2015 | Food & Drink
We enlisted the help of six wine experts who star in the upcoming television series Uncorked to discuss their go-to food and wine pairings you can try this season.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Morgan Harris, Dana Gaiser, Josh Nadel, Jack Mason, Jane Lopes, and Yannick Benjamin
With November here, we’re officially in holiday mode, which means cravings for decadent holiday feasts have never been stronger. But with those cravings also comes the inevitable stress of holiday entertaining. To help minimize any overwhelming feelings, we enlisted six NYC-based sommeliers to share their favorite holiday wine pairings. Trust us, you’ll want to take notes—not only are they wine experts, but they also star in the Esquire Network’s new TV series Uncorked (premiering November 10), which follows them as they prepare to take the prestigious master sommelier exam. In the meantime, check out their go-to holiday pairings below.
“One of my favorite dishes of the holidays is leftovers. Seriously, who doesn't look forward to feasting on leftover roasted turkey sandwiches dripping with gravy, melted provolone, maybe a few caramelized onions, stuffing, and cranberry sauce? I love drinking traditionally-made Nebbiolo with this sandwich, but not a full-bodied example—we are talking leftover sandwiches here, there is no reason for this to be an expensive wine. The category of 'Langhe Nebbiolo,' what I refer to as 'baby Barolo and Barbaresco,' provides delicious examples. You need some acid and tannin to cut through all the goodness in that sammy and that Bojo you forgot to open at dinner is not going to cut it here. I'm also not trying to pair a wine with 10 different things on the table at the same time. Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo is a touchstone for the category.”
“The Harris family does a whole, rolled beef rib roast every year at Christmas and I love pairing it with Syrah. The meat comes out perfect mid-rare and we usually cover it with a garlic and herb rub. Syrah has a great mixture of smoky, meaty, herbal, and olive-y aromas and a firm structure that pairs excellently with red meat. Syrah isn't so rich that it overwhelms traditional side dishes either like some other full-bodied reds. I generally prefer Syrah from its spiritual home in the Northern Rhône Valley, but there are a number of good examples made in America and Australia, including Domaine Faury St. Joseph, Northern Rhône Valley, France, 2013; Arnot-Roberts Syrah, North Coast, California, 2013; and Jamsheed Garden Gully Syrah, Great Western, Victoria, Australia 2013.”
“One of my favorite holiday dishes—versatile as an appetizer or dessert—is baked brie (or any kind of oozy cheese, like camembert, Cato Corner's Hooligan, or Cowgirl Creamery's Mt. Tam), served with candied nuts and sliced pear. To go with this, you're going to want a white wine that is unoaked, high acid, and has a little bit of sweetness. Both Riesling and Chenin Blanc can fit this bill, but to match the more pear in the dish, as well as stand up to the savory and bold qualities of the cheese, I think a demi-sec Chenin Blanc works best. I recommend François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire ‘Les Tuffeaux’ Demi-Sec 2011.”
“What is better than oysters, chilled lobster, et al, with a killer bottle of Champagne? Sounds like a perfect way to celebrate the holidays to me. This mineral-y, saline bubbly is a perfect pairing for chilled seafood. Its low dosage keeps it racy and super food-friendly.”
“The luxurious richness of a roast goose works beautifully with a powerful dry Riesling. Hirtzberger makes outstanding examples in Austria's Wachau region. The flavor profile of ripe orchard, stone, and citrus fruit with honey, herbs, and intense minerality meld perfectly with the luscious meat and crispy skin of the goose. And with all that fat, the high acidity of the wine is a necessity.”
“The pungent flavors of dry aging play very well with the roasted, meaty notes in Allemand's Cornas. The classic black pepper and herbal flavor profile of the wine echo the roast's crust. There is plenty of rich, clean, dark fruit to stand up well to the richness of the meat, and there is enough structure to cut through the fat.”
“This white wine, made from Chenin Blanc, is the perfect balance of finesse, richness, and seductive aromatics. Inherently a bright varietal, this Chenin sees some time in oak, encouraging body and weight similar to a well-made white Burgundy. Moderate-plus in body with a refreshing backbone, this white pairs well with butternut squash soup, roasted sweet potatoes, and even a perfectly roasted breast of turkey.”
“The art of pairing wines with food is largely a matter of personal preference. However, some safe bets for Thanksgiving wines are Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel. Or, a ripe modern style from the region of Bordeaux for red wine lovers and Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Viognier for those who prefer white wines. With white wines, the pairing priority is finding a wine with well-balanced acidity. With reds, you are shooting for fairly soft and elegant tannins that will yield to and support the flavors of the food.”
“When it comes to wine and pie pairings, fortified wines come immediately to mind. Pairing port with pies is a pretty straightforward matchup and goes way beyond just pumpkin and pecan pie. If you are a sherry fan, then you will want to take a look at either Pedro Ximénez or a cream sherry to contribute a delicious nutty, sweet spice-filled character to the pumpkin or pecan pie pairing combination.”