Wine pairing for Christmas. Part 2 – Desserts and Interesting Facts
In part one of this mini series we gave you advice on pairing your starters and main courses this Christmas. In part two, we’re going to give you some suggestions for pairing wine with desserts. We’re also going to give you some extra tips as a bonus, so you can enjoy the festivities with the perfect wine in hand.
Wine pairing for Christmas meals and desserts:
If you’re a fan of Panettone, there’s nothing better for it than prosecco or an enticing Moscato d’Asti.
If you prefer nougat, aged sparkling wines will help refresh and clean your palate. It would also go really well with Moscatel sweet wines. If the nougat is made with chocolate, you could try a sweet Garnacha or a sweet wine made with the Mataró grape, even a Port wine or a fruity, rich and full-bodied red wine.
If you usually finish off with Stollen, the traditional German Christmas bread, then we would recommend pairing it with some of the excellent German sweet wines like Spätlese, Auslese or Beerenauslese.
So that’s the end of our Christmas menu pairing advice, but let’s not leave it there. We want to make sure you’re fully prepared with some other tips and interesting facts about pairing.
Vegans don’t have to live on white wines
One pairing myth is that red wines are for enjoying alongside meat. So what if you’re vegetarian or vegan?
There are some excellent pairings to be discovered between full- and medium-bodied vegan red wines if your dish is made up of pulses or vegetables like aubergines and mushrooms.
Tofu has no flavour of its own. Its flavour comes from how it’s prepared and if it’s cooked in a sauce like miso or soy sauce, or seasoned with spices like cinnamon or ginger, or served with something grilled and caramelised, it can sit comfortably alongside a red wine.
On the other hand, raw dishes are better matched with non-aged crisp white wines and rosé wines. White wines aged in wood or with their lees are a better pairing for dishes involving purées, nuts or sweet vegetables like pumpkin, roasted red peppers or sweet potatoes.
Our friends from Jerez have provided some simple guidance for experimenting and having fun finding new wine pairings:
If it runs, (pig, ox, veal) put it with an Oloroso.
Basic Rules for Good Pairing
To finish this article and leave you to continue experimenting and learning about the fascinating world of food and drink pairing, here are 10 interesting thoughts from renowned sommelier Ferran Centelles from his book “¿Qué vino con este pato? Una aproximación a la esencia de los maridajes”, (“Which Wine With This Duck? An Approach to the Essence of Pairing”) which will give us some guidelines to getting it right this Christmas.
1- Pairings set together with the chef, where you can alter the recipe depending on the wine, are always the most accurate. (And if you’re the chef, your recipes can include a common element with the wine you are going to pair the food with)
2 – No wine will ruin a meal, but some foods can change the flavour of the wine.
3 – Pairings must be set in advance and not made up on the spot.
4 – Sticking to generic pairings like “this wine is great with chicken” can go wrong, because the cooking method, sauces and side dishes will influence the dominant taste of the dish more than the main ingredient will. (“Chicken sauteed with fine herbs” is not the same as “roast chicken with onions and chopped nuts”)
5 – Pairings are based on the combination of wine and food, although there are many other drinks like beer, cocktails, vermouth, sake, etc., that also make great pairings.
6 – Regionality can bring out some great tasting experiences.
7 – Complementary pairings are more straightforward and easier to get right.
8 – Contrasting pairings are more risky but are often more memorable. (Remember point 3 when trying this)
9 – Use pairing to captivate, evoke and seduce. A story told is often more memorable than the flavours themselves. (You could learn about the drinks you’re going to serve, find an interesting story, set the scene to tell your guests, and you’ll give them an unforgettable evening that will enhance their tasting experience)
10 – No one has the final opinion on which food and wine pairings are right and which are wrong: it’s all relative.
We hope these pairing suggestions for your Christmas lunches and dinners will be useful and that you find opportunities to use them all year round. Remember that the rule is that there are no rules, don’t be afraid to experiment and share your new gastronomic discoveries. Because who knows, in the not too distant future you could become the new François Chartier of pairings. Merry Christmas!