Lynfred Winery offers tips on choosing wines for the holidays
The holiday season is coming fast and that means lots of parties and entertaining! Holiday menu items might vary, but often remain traditionally the same, so why not think about trying out some different wines? Whether you are the one cooking and hosting, or the guest, it's great to have a go-to guide for wine selection.
THANKSGIVING. Thanksgiving dinner is rich and heavy, and all too often it seems an oak-laden Chardonnay and tannic Cabernet Sauvignon are thrown on the table with not much thought. Being that Thanksgiving is truly an American holiday, I find it much more interesting to only serve wines made in America for this dinner. A juicy red Zinfandel (once thought to be an American grape, but its true origins are in Croatia) creates a beautiful balance between the gravy and cranberry sauce. If you're looking for something trendy, an American-made dry Rose' pairs well with everything from hors d' oeuvres to dessert. If you really want to go all-American, choose a grape that is grown in Northern America, such as Seyval Blanc! Seyval Blanc is light, clean and acidic and is often considered to be a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.
HANUKKAH. If your Hanukkah table is playing host to brisket, I highly recommend having a rich Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon on hand! Serving latkes? Latkes are often known as 'the impossible wine pairing,' but I have found that sparkling wines are the perfect answer. If enjoying latkes plain, or with salty toppings, I recommend a brut (dry) sparkling, but if something sweet is added to the latke I would recommend choosing a sweeter sparkling wine or even a sparkling Rose'.
CHRISTMAS. Being of Nordic and German descent, my Christmas traditions are steeped (no pun intended) in mulled and warm spiced wines (red wine, served warm, with spices added). Serving mulled wine to arriving party guests not only brings welcome cheer, but also makes the home smell festive. Christmas dinner main dishes vary from home to home, and my family traditionally had ham. Ham is lovely when paired with Riesling (sweet and salt, y'all) and Pinot Noir. My husband's family traditionally makes prime rib, which I love paired with Syrah or a nice Cabernet Sauvignon (both can hold up against a horseradish pairing). If Italian is your tradition, I recommend sticking with grapes of Italian origin, such as Sangiovese or Barbera for reds and Pinot Grigio and Vermentino for whites. My best advice for Christmas? Make sure you have enough red and white on hand to keep the party going!
NEW YEAR'S: Last, but not least, rounding up our holiday entertaining, is New Year's Eve. Of course, Sparkling wines and Champagne are on the list. Confused about sparkling wines? Champagne is sparkling wine that is only made in the Champagne region of France. Prosecco is from Italy, Cava is from Spain and Sparkling is used worldwide. Sparkling wines can range in sweetness levels from brut nature (the driest of them all), extra brut, brut, dry, demi-sec and finally doux (the sweetest). If you're throwing a New Year's Eve party I recommend having a variety of styles on hand.
Lynfred Winery, located in Roselle, with tasting room locations in Wheaton, Wheeling and Naperville, is Illinois' oldest and largest, continually-operating family winery. All the wines mentioned in this column can be found at Lynfred.