By Michael Bray
As we prepare for the holiday season, I’m reflecting in gratitude on this past year. From the activity and joy of the spring and summer, to the abundance of fall by the shore, to your continued and engaged readership – there are so many reasons to pause and say “thank you”. For those of you who tuned in for my article in the Fall Issue, you’ll recall what I shared about The Right Notes, South Jersey’s fight against multiple sclerosis. On September 22, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of The Right Notes, as well as the beautiful life and legacy of my Mom, Jayne Bray, who was the inspiration for the event. I’m happy to share that the generous support of our community allowed us to raise over $100,000 toward finding a cure for multiple sclerosis, and we couldn’t have done it without you.
Looking forward to Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, I anticipate many additional opportunities for gratitude, togetherness, and – of course – good wine. With a full calendar of food-centric occasions on the horizon, I’d like to offer my thoughts on holiday food pairings. The wines listed below offer a range of aromas and flavors that will complement a wide variety of foods, including those traditionally served on a holiday table.
Rosé: Domaine Clo La Petite Bete (Loire Valley, France; on sale $13.99)
With its bright acidity and round fruit notes, dry rosé is an extremely versatile and food-friendly wine, and the perfect match for your holiday spread. Domaine Clo La Petite Bete Rosé offers vibrant notes of exotic fruits and citrus that will brighten any dish. Its well-integrated acidity will complement fruit-based fare (think cranberry sauce) and offer an excellent counterbalance to creamy dishes (think mashed potatoes, or cream sauces).
White: Pierre Sparr Riesling (Alsace, France; $16.99)
Riesling is a classic choice for holiday meals, as it is a natural pairing for main courses starring poultry, pork, and fish. The Alsace region (located in eastern France next to Germany and Switzerland) is known for its elegant and flavorful white wines, and Pierre Sparr Riesling is no exception. The nose is vibrant with fruity, floral aromas, and the palate is full-bodied enough to stand up to lighter meats and root vegetables.
Light-bodied Red: Big Table Farm Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon; $54.99)
When it comes to food-friendly reds, you can’t go wrong with pinot noir. With deeper, darker flavors than most whites and rosés, and a lighter body and softer tannins than more robust reds, Pinot Noir is an ideal complement for a wide array of food. Big Table Farm Pinot Noir delivers with a balanced flavor profile of raspberry, spice, and cocoa, and will pair beautifully with turkey, ham, and roasted vegetables.
Full-bodied Red: Sky Vineyards Mt. Veeder Zinfandel (Napa Valley, California; $44.99)
While bold reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo are the perfect partners for certain dishes, their firm tannin structure can overpower more nuanced flavors. If you’re seeking something full-bodied and layered with softer tannins, red zinfandel is for you. One of my favorites of the moment is Sky Vineyards Mt. Veeder Zinfandel, which offers layered notes of mountain fruit, combined with a lightening acidity and balanced tannins. This hearty red will stand up to more robust cuisine, while not overshadowing vegetarian courses and side dishes.
When selecting the wines to complement your upcoming holiday menus, the most important rule is to drink what you like. While the structural components of food and wine will interact and create unique flavor experiences, I encourage you to start with wines you know and love, experiment with new pairings, and have fun exploring beyond your comfort zone.
I hope this pairing guide offers some helpful guidance this holiday season and beyond. As always, let me know if you have any thoughts or questions – I’d love to hear about your holiday selections! You can reach me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
To order these wines and many more, please visit Passion Vines in Somers Point and Egg Harbor Twp. You can order online for convenient pickup or delivery.