Holiday Feasts!

Not too long ago, we were asked for opinions about wines with holiday meals. Never being short on opinions, I was happy and excited to oblige! The subject was what wines to have with the following main courses- Pork Roast. Beef Roast. Turkey. Baked Ham. Leg of Lamb. The suggestions were to focus on our wines, but all other quality wines are easily accepted here.

Pork Roast. My gosh! There are so many things to say here. Saying “Pork Roast” to me is like saying “empty canvas’ to a painter! Such a wide variety of styles to consider…but.. let’s assume were talking a lovely pork loin roast gently dusted in herbs, salt, pepper and, above all, garlic. This is a classic set-up for both the rapier and the broadsword. I’ll give both of these considerations herein. The rapier approach- the wine that will just cut through to the flavor of the meat, not fight it, not change it, just fit it- 2 choices, a nice strong Sauvignon Blanc for white crowd and a gracious, Beaujolais-like Rougeon. Both of these wines will find the gentle, lean flavor of the slightly caramelized pork; they will also catch the seasonings and give them a gentle push to the palate. The broadsword approach would be the bigger Tempranillo. With a little age and softening, the earthy flavors of the wine will add to the dish like another sauce. If you have a nice hearty pan sauce for the pork roast, you can go younger- say a 2008 Tempranillo, to match the tannins.

Beef Roast. For me, not too much rapier action here (Pinot Noirs and burgundies are the foils for beef). Outside of wild game, beef is the most demanding of the red meats. It needs something to stand up to the intense flavor and the strong effects of the cooking (at least around here!) Go with the stronger wines like the Cabernet-Syrah or the Zinfandel. If the treatment of the beef is gentle- low temps, low spicing, the Cabernet-Syrah is great. However, if the meat is roast over coals, and there’s lots of pepper and spice, go with the Zin!

Turkey. One thing my dad taught me early on, every wine goes with the turkey. There are no bad matches- we’ve had white wines, red wines, dry and sweet; they all fit. However, look to the sides. if you have an American Colonial style dinner, with savories, puddings, brothy dishes, then the Sack, a colonial-style dry sherry is perfect. It was George Washington’s pick with a trussed, boiled turkey! If you have spicy, southern or southwestern accents, a medium red like Cabernet Franc is superlative.

. Baked Ham. Easiest pick in the house. While lighter, leaner wines like Riesling and Seyval Blanc are fine with a ham, nothing is as wonderful with a great ham as a drier rose’ like the Rosato. The classic blend of salty meat, with fruity, slightly acidic, bare touch of tannin wines is heaven sent.

. Leg of Lamb. Around our house, Merlot rules the roost with lamb. The classic approach with garlic, peppercorn, salt and rosemary is too hard to resist. If we don’t have a Merlot on the shelf, we run out to get a good one! The breadth of the fruit of that grape massages the flavors of the meat, and the moderated tannins turn the lamb fats into pure flavor!

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