Perfect Pairings: Wine Pairings for the Holidays

Kendall College’s #HolidayHandbook

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It takes a lot of work to plan out an entire holiday meal, create a grocery list, brave the grocery store lines, and spending hours preparing the food to finally enjoy. When you finally get to savor the food you’ve spent so much time and energy making, there is nothing better than sitting back and having a glass of wine to go along with it. The wine you choose is very important, though! Did you know that if you pair the wrong type of wine with your food, it can actually make it taste bad? You don’t want to ruin your delicious meal with the wrong wine!

To help you choose the perfect wine pairings, Kendall College Adjunct Faculty member and wine expert Mary Ross is giving you her rules to follow and recommendations on wines to pair with items for your Thanksgiving dinner and upcoming holiday meals.

Mary’s Rules of Wine & Food

  • Start with a lighter wine, move to a richer wine.

And vice versa, when you start with a drier wine, you will want to move to a sweeter wine!

  • Look for common denominators in wine and food, except…
  • When serving spicy, smoked, greasy, or salty foods, look for opposites to attract.

The typical rule of thumb is that you want to find wines that match the style of food you are having, but foods with these qualities are an exception! Sparkling wine is perfect for spicy and greasy food so that your palate isn’t weighed down!

  • Remember the Biochemistry of Bacchus – select a wine with less tannin.

Look for wine that has less tannin. Tannin bonds with fat and protein, which we want to avoid when having with our meats like ham or turkey. A nice light red or pinot noir would be the perfect choice!

  • In case of emergency, serve light red or dry rose.

When in doubt, reach for a bottle of light red or dry rose! Cider is also a great choice for a traditional pairing.

  • Sweeter for the sweets.

If the wine is dryer than the food, all you will taste is the acidity and bitterness. To avoid this, the wine has to be sweeter than the food. For desserts and sides like cranberry sauce, yams, etc., look for sweet wines like Riesling or Moscato!

  • Any well-prepared wine will compliment any well-prepared food item.

At the end of the day, any good wine will pair well with any great food. If you are worried about finding the perfect pair, just stick to a light red or dry rose and it will be just fine!


Light Red – Le Beaujolais Nouveau. (Released on Nov. 19); Cru Beaujolais, Ponzi Pinot Noir

Dry Rose – Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare

Sweet Wines – Riesling, Chateau Ste. Michelle; Eroica Riesling; Cold Creek Vineyard Riesling

Sparkling Wine – Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir

To hear more tips and recommendations from Mary Ross, check out her full TASTE Talk here:

Good wine & good health to you and yours this holiday season!