Dave Miller’s 2018 Holiday Wine Guide

Your guide to getting the right wine for your 2018 holidays.

A few years back we did a little post on wines for the holidays. I thought it would be good to take another look at it, do an update and see if anything has changed over the years. I asked our friend Ed Draves, of Premier Wines and Spirits and who tastes all of our Mexican spirits to give me hand.

So let’s just jump right in.

Dave… Ed, I’m roasting a turkey breast in the oven and a leg of lamb on the grill. What are my best wine options to pair with these two classic white meats?

Ed… Dave, a nice Pinot Noir would be fantastic, perhaps one from Oregon. With the Lamb, a classic combination is a red from France’s Rhone region, with that in mind you might try one of the Rhone offerings from Baja California.

Dave… My in-laws will also be in town over the holidays and for them, I’m doing prime rib. I’m assuming that means something bold and red, right?

Ed… Yes, a Cabernet Sauvignon from California or a Bordeaux from France would be beautiful choices. Look for something nice with good tannic structure.

I’ll be grilling a leg of lamb this Christmas, like this one from Traeger Grills.

Dave… What if someone is doing a ham? Is there something different we should look for if we get a sweeter style honey baked ham, as opposed to the typical Farmer John more salty style found in many  neighborhood stores?

Ed… Dave, here I’d go with a nice Dry Rose’. Dry Rose’ has become incredibly popular as a “go to” summer wine but it is also very food friendly. Most retailers still have a great supply and they are light with nice fruit and can have ample acidity. 

Chile Verde, for me, a holiday classic.

Dave… Now I’m gonna throw you a little curve. I’m going to make chile verde one night because at some point, I get tired of the typical holiday food. So think pork, stewed in a slightly acidic tomatillo salsa and rice. Do I stay with wine, or maybe switch it up and offer a cocktail made with a Mexican spirit?

Ed… Well, for wine, a German Riesling semi Dry Riesling  would be spectacular. The inherent peachy fruit and mouthwatering acidity would compliment the dish perfectly. If you’re looking for a domestic wine, try something from the Finger Lakes Region here in New York or maybe a Michigan wine. But if you’re looking for a nice spirit (especially from Mexico) you could experiment with the Margarita – a little smoke nuance from using mezcal. Or you can even look to match the flavor with a touch of Ancho Reyes Chile Liquor. I’d say get the Verde! 

Dave… Finally Ed, as a wine guy, just two more questions. First, do you have a recommendation for New Year’s Eve?

Ed… New Years Eve is a great time for Champagne but remember, sparkling wines (ie Champagne like wine – not from Champagne region in France) come from all over the world. Freixenet makes world class sparkling wine in Querétaro, Mexico. Cava from Spain and Crémant from France are also great choices.

Don’t be fooled. Make sure your sparkling wine is made using the champagne method for your celebration.

If you’re having a party why not get a wide variety and let your guests “travel the world”. Just make sure it’s done in the Champagne method (Méthode Champenoise) – they are only a buck or two more than the “bulk process” wines and they are so much more enjoyable and fun!

Dave… And second what’s new that we should be looking for in 2019? What’s on the horizon?

On the horizon?

As social media makes the world a little smaller and people discover wines from “underappreciated” regions, look for more diversity at your local wine store. Local wines (from wherever you roam) will continue to improve in price and quality. I also see Dry Rose’ continuing to be fashionable.

Finally, let me encourage everyone to visit wineries on their travels, discover local gems and then get to know your local wine store employees. We are here because we love wine and want to love it too!

Dave… so take Ed’s advice and stroll into your local wine shop with some confidence… because a great holiday meal not only includes the perfect main course, it also includes some great wine and spirits.

If you want to tag along with me and Ed as we discover the great spirits of Mexico in 2019, drop us a line, we’d love to have you join us!

This interview, conducted online, has been slightly edited for clarity and readability.

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