The Best Wines and Beers for Your Holiday Meal
You have the turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, and gravy—your menu is complete, right? Not quite. Before you finish planning your holiday meal, be sure you're not neglecting the vino and brews. Our 10-Minute Wine Matchmaker will help you showcase that golden pièce de résistance (i.e. the bird), while balancing all the delicious flavors of the meal. But, before we begin with our matches, we must bring to light libations to avoid.
MISMATCH Avoid big Italian Barolos and California cabs that can steal the thunder of even the mightiest roasted bird. Also, keep light whites like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio with appetizers—they’ll never get out of the gate against the main course.
Match #1: A Smooth and Juicy Red
A mid-weight red, without puckering tannins, will shine without overpowering the flavor of the meat.
ZEROING IN Merlot has been in the doghouse since the movie Sideways, but the cool nights in Washington state’s Columbia Valley produce a balanced wine, different from clunky California merlots. With cherry aromas and light tannins, these reds go with both a robust turkey and a wide variety of sides at the holiday table.
Snoqualmie, Merlot, Washington, 2007 ($11)
Columbia Crest, Grand Estates Merlot, Washington, 2007 ($12)
Match #2: A Soft But Weighty White
A heftier white with fruit and a hint of oak can handle both the turkey’s roasted flavor and the rich pan gravy.
ZEROING IN Although Chilean chardonnays aren’t as popular as their oak-laden California cousins, they’re gaining popularity. With layers of apple, pear, and lemon, they’re a terrific choice (and value) compared to pricier white Burgundies and other big, buttery, food-clobbering wines.
Veramonte, Reserva Chardonnay, 2008 ($12)
Viña Cono Sur, Chardonnay, Chile, 2008 ($11)
Match #3: A Crisp and Rich Winter Lager
Why not offer beer to the non-wine-drinkers? Bitter hops and carbonation navigate the full range of turkey-dinner flavors.
ZEROING IN The toasty caramelized notes of these brews lend muscle—a tasty asset with this turkey’s full-bodied rub.
Samuel Adams, Winter Lager, Massachusetts ($10/six-pack)
Magic Hat, Howl, Vermont ($10/six-pack)