3 Rules for Christmas Dinner Wine Pairings

By: Mark Aselstine

So one interesting part of Christmas dinner, when compared with say Thanksgiving, is that so many different people eat different things.

At Thanksgiving, even if you’ve never met your neighbors, you have a pretty good idea about what’s on the table: turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. Sure, the other sides change but over the years, the basics have been remarkably stable.

Christmas is an entirely different thing. Some families circle back to turkey. Others have roast beef or ham. Heck, in my house we even mix in tri tip in some years if the weather is nice enough to get the BBQ going.

So how can we suggest wine pairings with such a diverse set of foods?

The first rule for pairing wine with Christmas meals is simply, to make sure that you’re opening wine that people who are coming actually like. I think while almost everyone attempts to spend Thanksgiving with their family, Christmas is one of those times where you often have more friends around.

If you’re serving turkey, then Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer are still good bets.

Roast beef and our house favorite of tri tip call for darker reds much of the time. While Pinot Noir still works of course because the acidity helps cut through the fat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and other Rhone style blends all work as well.

Lastly, what if you’re serving ham? This might be the most difficult because ham can be both sweet and salty at the same time, especially if you have a honey baked ham like so many Americans. It’s really that touch of sweetness that you have to pay attention to and attempt to pair. Riesling makes a ton of sense, even if it might scare off your less adventurous wine drinking family members. Really though, if you’re serving ham there’s only one pairing that we can all get behind and easily at that: sparkling wine! People always want to go with darker wines at dinner, but really, nothing quite fits a honey baked ham on Christmas quite like a glass of bubbly.

Ok, so that’s it. While it’s hard to say exactly what you’ll be having for Christmas dinner, I can probably come close within a few guesses. Really, while you should be serving what everyone at your table will happily drink, we can still take a bit of time to get the pairings put together correctly right?


About The Author

Owner and Proprietor of Uncorked Ventures an online wine club and gift basket company, one of the most enjoyable aspects to my job is meeting the people who craft the wines that we all enjoy.

Visit Mark Aselstine's web site