Three great wines for the holidays

Mark DeWolf|Wine Discovery


If you’re like me, you can almost smell the turkey or prime rib roasting in the oven. It’s Christmas time, which in my home means a great excuse to celebrate with wines I’ve been eying over the past year.

Superb with Seafood

Many of my friends celebrate New Year’s with a feed of mussels and lobster. While a premium Nova Scotia sparkling or white wine is always the right choice, there are some unique wine from around the world that also pair amazingly well with seafood.

When looking for a white wine to match a broad range of seafood, avoid oaky styles often labeled as Rich & Full, as they are often accompanied by wood driven flavours such as vanilla or toasty flavours. Better selections are usually Crisp & Light styles that have their own mineral-like edge and lively acidity. You can find these wines labeled as Crisp & Light and they often have flavours described as mineral or citrus. Classic examples include Muscadet and Chablis but one of my personal favourites, is Pieropan ‘La Rocca’ Soave Classico from Northern Italy.

Pieropan is considered one of the region’s great traditional producers, as they utilize classic vine training methods and winemaking techniques to deliver a complex, but edgy style that’s simply perfect when paired with shellfish.

Pairing Pinot and Turkey

The turkey dinner is so much more than the turkey itself. The challenge is picking a wine to match the wide range of side dishes found on the table. It can be difficult to find a wine that pairs well with the turkey itself as it does with the tanginess of the cranberry sauce and the savoury flavours of the stuffing.

Bold & Full reds overpower the meal, while the Light & Fruity red wines can lose their delicate fruit flavours to the rich flavours of the meal. A premium Gamay Noir, such as a Cru Beaujolais or Pinot Noir often strike the right mix of tangy red fruit flavours and earthy undertones to make a match with the meal.

My wines of choice either come from France’s Burgundy region, where Gamay and Pinot Noir are made, or have been inspired by them. White Burgundy, made from Chardonnay, is a great choice for the white wine, although I also enjoy the versatile nature of premium Riesling as the wines with their vivacious mix of honeyed fruit flavours and citrusy acidity has a way of standing up to a wide range of cuisine.

Grab a Cab for Roast Beef

A classic holiday favourite in my home is roast beef dinner, but the bold flavours of the beef can overpower subtly flavoured wine. Rule number one of food and wine pairing is to match the wine’s body (how heavy it feels) with the weight of the dish.

Match a light wine with a lightly textured dish and conversely a full-bodied wine with a full-bodied dish. Red meats are rich in texture thanks to their high protein and fat content.

But there is more to it than simply the choice of protein. We often serve roast beef with gravy and rich accompanying side dishes, all of which add up to the overall heaviness of the dish. The NSLC Wine Discovery Guide is a great resource for finding wines that have the prerequisite of being bold and full-flavoured enough to handle this traditional holiday meal.

Look for wines that are indicated as Bold & Full. Many Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines fit the bill. One of my all-time favourites is Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon. The NSLC’s Port Store offers a number of vintages of this wine, allowing you to purchase wines ready for immediate consumption or that can be cellared for holiday dinners in the future.

Selections can be found at The Port and at select NSLC around the province.

Occasions recommends: 

Pieropan La Rocca Soave Classico, Italy, $41.99

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir, New Zealand, $45.79

Concha Y Toro Don Melchor, $79.99


Next week: We make recommendations for wines to match a New Year’s Eve occasion.


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