Wine for all: Wine chocolate & Christmas pairings
Christmas season is celebrated around the world with different traditions and dishes. In my family, we eat baked turkey, and a traditional dish of this season called ‘romeritos’ (a type of herb similar to ‘rosemary’ native to North America made with Mexican mole).
We cook so much food that once Christmas is over, we continue to eat the reheated one for weeks! Our Christmas dinner in the following days becomes different versions of sandwiches, tacos, salads, tapas, etc., and of course, our meals are paired by a good wine! Because, as I have said before, there is a wine for everyone! Especially Christmas.
I decided to choose some traditional Christmas dishes from my country and international, to give you my suggestions on wine pairing to enjoy more your dishes and drink.
Let's remember, first, that our purpose when pairing is not to allow neither the wine to overshadow the food, nor the food overshadow the wine, but rather that both flavors complement each other in perfect harmony.
Here are some of my suggestions to make the perfect Christmas pairing and give your celebration a different touch:
Turkey is very often the star of the Christmas festivities!
In general, birds such as turkey do not tend to have intense meat, and their fat content is low. Its preparation is usually with a filling that varies from almonds, apple, ground meat to even ham or bacon.
Turkey is often served with cranberry sauce and prepared in different ways that make it juicy, and full of flavor. (Check out Joha's recipe for the perfect turkey, and her 10 tips for a juicy turkey!)
My pairing suggestion for turkey is a light, young red wine with soft tannins like Pinot Noir, Merlot or a Shiraz (or a blend). These will complement the sweet and herbal flavor that baked turkey tent to have.
If you prefer white wine, you can choose an Albariño, or a slightly more powerful Chardonnay (with barrel if possible), since that slight acidity goes very well with the juiciness of the Christmas turkey.
• Mexican romeritos
Loved and hated, the controversial romeritos have a very peculiar mix of flavors, with a predominant shrimp flavor.
For this dish, you may be surprised to learn that a dry white sparkling wine (brut or extra brut) is a very good mix, since the bubbles cut through the fat from the mole sauce, creating a very pleasant effect on the palate.
• Basque style cod fish (Bacalao a la Vizcaína).
Basque style cod fish, also known as salt cod vizcaya style, is a very complete and expressive dish. As it is a white fish, quite salty, cooked with capers, olives, garlic, onion and tomato (among others).
My suggestion is to pair it with a rosé wine such as Tempranillo, or Garnacha, whose light tannins will respect the flavors of the dish.
Also, a carbonic maceration red such as Beaujolais Nouveau (remember to buy the most recent vintage from this type of wine, since this wine only lasts 6 months from its release on the third Thursday of November of each year).
Likewise, this dish goes very well with honeyed white wines with a lot of body and flavor, like Viogner or Chardonnay.
Note: Be very careful with the amount of spiciness in your dish! Remember that spiciness has a numbing effect on our taste buds, and they can saturate them, inhibiting our sense of taste to enjoy the wine.
• Pork tenderloin
Pork tenderloin is very versatile. There are countless ways to prepare it: in a plum sauce, a sauce made with chilies, or red wine, usually served with butter mashed potatoes, as it helps the palate to reduce the dryness of the pork. Therefore, my suggestion is a red wine like Malbec aged in the barrel, although pork is not red meat, it creates a balance with the seasonings of the meat.
• Christmas apple salad (ensalada de manzana)
Apple salad, can be served as a dessert, garnish or starter.
When served as a dessert, pair it with wine, it will act as a digestive. In that case, my recommendation would be a sweet white wine (serve cold).
If served as a starter, I suggest reducing the pineapple syrup in the salad, and accompanying it with a rosé, or white but sweet sparkling wine (sec or demi-sec, cold).
• Chocolate cake (Chocolate cake)
Chocolate cake, though it is not unique for Christmas, is one of the most popular desserts around the world and it is eating during this season too!
When it comes to chocolate and wine, it is important to consider the following:
The more cocoa it contains, the more intense the wine should be paired with. Therefore, my suggestion is that the cocoa is not higher than 60-70%.
Also, the sweeter the dessert, it is recommended that the wine exceed that sweetness. A contrasting option is to accompany it with a Cabernet Sauvignon, which is aged in barrels.
Another delicious, sweet suggestion worth trying is with Oporto Ruby.
• Christmas fruit cake
Christmas fruit cake is a dessert that in addition to being very traditional and popular, has a taste and appearance typical of this time. It contains dried fruits that are very common in Christmas dishes.
My suggestion is to try it with a sweet sparkling wine, or a white dessert wine (late harvest).
Finally, I want to share with you my recipe for a delicious drink that I like to describe as “a hug in a cup”, as it can be enjoyed as a family during cold winter days: Hot chocolate with wine.
Hot chocolate with wine
1 liter of milk (4 ½ cup)
1 bottle of 750ml red wine (a cabernet sauvignon can work)
350grs chopped semi-bitter chocolate
4 teaspoons of cocoa powder
Marshmallows or whipped cream
1. Heat the milk until it boils and when it does, lower the heat to a minimum.
2. Mix the chocolate into the milk until the chocolate has melted, continue stirring and add the cocoa until it dissolves and the mixture begins to thicken slightly.
3. Add the red wine (while stirring the mixture) and turn over medium heat until it starts to bubble. To turn off. Rectify the sweetness to taste.
4. Serve hot. Decorating suggestion: whipped cream or marshmallows and cinnamon.