With the holiday season just around the corner, the time is appropriate to review and refresh our basic wine knowledge for common wine/food pairings and tastings. As many will agree, a well-chosen bottle of wine matched with a festive occasion is often an unbeatable combination. Whether you decide to share an inexpensive bottle of California Sauvignon Blanc or an expensive French Leflaive Puligny Montrachet, the occasion can only be heightened by the addition of an ideal wine selection. Selecting this “perfect wine”, as we all know is often a difficult and awkward task. Many feel intimidated by the topic in general and avoid asking the necessary questions to insure a suitable wine/food or tasting experience. Here are some very basic guidelines to remember when perusing your local wine merchant for holiday wines.
Tips for enjoying the perfect holiday wines:
- Delicate dishes should be accompanied by lighter, more delicate wines.
- Full flavored foods should be matched with fuller bodied wines.
- When offering more than one wine, you should aim to ascend in flavor and the quality of the wines served.
- Dry wines should be served before sweet wines (Sweet wines served first will cause the dry wine to taste more acidic).
- White wines before red wines.
- Light bodied before full bodied wines (Appreciating a fragile Pinot Noir after a robust Cabernet could prove difficult).
- Young before old wines (Any step back in quality will be noticed. If an old fine wine were to be tasted prior to a lesser wine, many of the fine wines subtle qualities may be missed).
- Fortified wines like Ports, Sherries and Madeira’s generally should be served last as they tend to diminish both the sense of smell and palate.
If offering an assortment of wines to your guests or having a wine tasting party, the sequence of when the wines are tasted is also important. Here are some of the common varietals in the order that they would be best experienced.
- Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris)
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Pinot Noir
- Zinfandel (Red)
- Shiraz (Syrah)
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Fortified/Desert Wines
Although following these guidelines should provide for a more enjoyable wine experience, remember that there is no absolute right or wrong wine for your holiday occasion. Experiment, discover, but most of all enjoy the wines you’ve selected and the renewed friendships that come with the holiday season.
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