We will be enjoying a Bourbon Soaked Spiral Ham with our Christmas dinner. We have a lovely Spanish Rioja wine set aside to enjoy with this. The ham will be seasoned with the bourbon and orange juice, cloves, brown sugar and black pepper. The wine that will accompany this ham needs to be able to stand up to the sweetness of the brown sugar and the brisk flavors of the bourbon. We will be serving a Spanish Rioja because it has enough tannin for the ham but it also has enough fruit to enhance the flavor of the ham. One of my favorite Riojas is Bodegas Muga Reserva. The price for this is about $18.
If you’re serving poultry, you may want to consider a White Bordeaux (see my previous wine blog). No matter how you cook the bird or what seasonings you have used, a White Bordeaux will hold up but not overpower what you’re serving. My current favorite White Bordeaux wines are Chateau Sainte-Marie Bordeaux Blanc and Bellevue Bordeaux Blanc. The price for these are about $20
For those that are enjoying beef with their dinner, I would recommend a fully rounded
Cabernet. Be careful of the heavy tannic Cabs, they are better with a grilled steak or something that is heavy on the seasoning. A fully rounded Cabernet is one that has some complexity to it but not a lot of tobacco or licorice flavors to it. Various Cabernet wines that run about $12 – $20 per bottle would be; Cannonball, McManis, Sharecropper and Stagecoach. All of these are from California except Sharecropper which is from the Columbia Valley, Washington. Depending on where you live, at least one of these should be available. I call these “friendly Cabs”. Nice and round, not too acidic, plenty of dark fruits (blackberry, cherries, pomegranate)
One thing about a red wine, if you don’t like it, keep the bottle open for 20 minutes, you will find the characters of the wine will change, some more drastic than others. I find Italian and Spanish wines to change the most.
If you’re serving a heavily spiced beef or like my mother always did – homemade raviolis, then certainly pick a wine with more gusto and tannins, something that has more cedar and eucalyptus in it.
And for those serving pork or lamb, reach for a Pinot Noir. My favorite Pinots come from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. I have never been disappointed in a Pinot from this region. Unfortunately this seems to be a very popular consensus lately and the prices have soared. So…I’m now trying Pinots from the Central Coastal region of California and have been pleasantly surprised with what I’ve found. Carmel Road Pinot Noir Arroyo Secco is a good example of a very nice Pinot Noir from the Monterey, California area. This wine should cost around $18.
I keep my Pinot Noir wines chilled. I pull them about an hour before serving and prefer to serve the wine about 5 or 10 degrees colder than room temperature. This allows the fruit in the wine to slowly ripen while we are enjoying it.
I found an excellent website for purchasing wine. It is JJ Buckley Fine Wines. You can purchase one bottle of wine at a time (or more of course) and you can store your purchase for no charge up to six months. I gather up a total of 12 bottles then pay $36 in shipping from California to Vermont. This allows me to purchase wine at a slow pace and only pay $3 per bottle for shipping. They have a good selection which changes as their inventory changes. This is where I purchased my white bordeaux. I’m not sure if they still have these two in stock, but if not, they will be able to direct you to something similar. Unfortunately some states do not allow wine to be shipped, check with any website for when shipping wine to your location.
There are many other wine varietals that I have not mentioned; Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Merlot and Syrah, to name a few, but for the holiday meals I’ve mentioned above, I believe the Spanish Rioja, White Bordeaux, Cabernet and Pinot Noirs are what I would be serving.
Which wine will you be serving?