Paris Muser and wine connoisseur Jaime shares her tips for seasonal wine pairings.
Holidays are a time for gathering together and sharing a meal, and for the French, wine is key. Making choices when there are so many, can be daunting. Here are my suggestions for your own feast this year.
Why not start with some bubbly? That satisfying POP! of the cork signals that it’s time to start celebrating. Many refer to any sparkling wine as “Champagne” but the real stuff only comes from the French eponymous region. Not only is champagne a great welcome for your guests, it also pairs well with typical French appetizers like oysters, escargots (yup, snails!), and foie gras, and virtually anything else you are serving before your meal. For a more affordable sparkling wine option, try a Crémant d’Alsace from the northeast of France.
A main course of a roast might be on the menu, and for a hearty roasted chicken or turkey, look no further than Burgundy, the birthplace of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pinot Noir pairs well with a variety of foods – this red wine is light enough to compliment fish like salmon or tuna, and flavorful enough to hold its own alongside a rich roasted duck. Burgundy wines are effortlessly charming, have captivating perfumes and generally moderate alcohol levels, making them great accompaniment to nearly any roast.
Chardonnay, also from the Burgundy region, varies in style, often from one plot of land to another, which keeps things exciting. For a dry, uniquely mineral wine that goes great with seafood, try Chablis. For a richer, rounder quality to accompany grilled fish or fowl, you want an oak-aged Côtes de Beaune. For a smaller-budget but still excellent wine, try a Mâconnais. Burgundy wines can come with a high price tag, we found this guide helpful for making an affordable selection.
Another great option for a roast, be it fowl, ham or beef, is one of the Beaujolais Cru red wines. Many think of Beaujolais as a kind of throwaway wine, but clearly they have not tasted one of the Beaujolais Crus, made from the Gamay grape in the Beaujolais region just south of Burgundy. They pair marvelously with charcuterie (cured meat) platters. Read more on the marvelous Crus of Beaujolais here.
When dessert and cheese roll around, consider a glass of sweet wine such as Sauternes, from Bordeaux. The balance of sweetness and acidity, along with heavenly aromas like peach, apricot, and honey, make it a great partner for a fruit-based tart or apple pie, or cheeses such as a blue cheese or aged gouda. If you are finishing your meal with something chocolaty, an overtly acidic or dry wine can mellow the decadent sweetness. Try a rich full-bodied red wine such as Banyuls, a Grenache-based fortified red wine from the southern Languedoc-Roussillon region.
Whichever wines you choose, may your holidays be merry and bright. As the French say when they raise a glass, santé!