Let’s face it: If you have to spend a whole meal with those in-laws you don’t really like, you might as well eat and drink well while you’re there. This is yet another reason why the holidays are a great opportunity to pair food and beverages in new and exciting ways. To save you some heavy mental lifting, we recently tasked our experts to come up with some fun (and, in a few cases, unexpected) holiday pairings for foods you know and love. Most of the pairings are a bit unusual, but you’ll notice a familiar wine on the list, too. Once you’ve tried these duos, please let us know what you think. Happy Holidays!
Champagne + Potato Latkes
Potato latkes, or pancakes, are a mainstay of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. They also are tough to pair with most still wines. Instead, reach for the bubbles—preferably dry bubbles from Champagne, or Prosecco from Italy. The effervescence will cut through the grease of the latkes and wash down the starchy potatoes. After your second glass, you also will notice an improvement in your dreidel skills.
Hard apple cider + Turkey
Who needs cranberry sauce with salty turkey when you can drink hard apple cider instead? Pretty much any cider made with sharp-sweet apples will work, so long as the one you choose has lots of brightness and acidity. If you want to get really next-level, choose a cider that mixes in bittersweet apples from England or France and marvel at how the tastes become more structured and austere.
German-style Hefeweizen + Lobster Tails
When it comes to Christmas dishes, nothing is fancier than lobster tails. Still, this top-shelf dish works best with a lowbrow drink: a light and fruity German-style Hefeweizen. This particular beer brings out the salinity and natural sweetness of the shellfish, while cleansing your palate for the next bites. You even can drink it with a bib on.
Malbec + Christmas Cookies
One of the best attributes of our 2016 Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, is its ability to pair with all sorts of different foods. At holiday time, the wine’s flavors of blackberries, chocolate sauce, and bacon dovetail perfectly with the sweet and spicy flavors of Christmas cookies. We dare you to limit yourself to one of either.
Sweet Vermouth + Panettone
Yes, we know panettone is an acquired taste. But believe it or not, the mashup of fruitcake with this Italian aperitif is a match made in heaven. The saccharine flavor of the vermouth all but vanquishes the bitter and tart flavor of the fruitcake’s citron, leaving you to enjoy the sweet and slightly sour dough on its own. After experiencing this combo, you’ll never wince at panettone again.