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Holiday wining


By Gene Gonzales

Christmas and New Year are coming, and there will be a stream of food whether eaten in celebration or bought for the holidays or, of course, received. There may also be gifts of wine. How to pair these beverages with the food that puts us in the Christmas mood? Here are some 24 recommended pairings for this season:


1. Pair American-style or molded ham with sweet pink wines like Zinfandel or moscato to match the saltiness, bready and tart champagne or methode traditionale with lemony notes to go with the meat’s glaze and smokey character, or German Riesling whose fruity notes match the richness of ham.

2. Pair Chinese style or glazed ham with dry rosé, Riesling, or gewurtztraminer with fruity, sweet notes, or try white or pink moscato to foil the saltiness.

3. Pair charcuterie (Spanish jamon, prosciutto, salami) with young, spicy Spanish crianzas. German Rieslings or Gewurtztraminer will do just as well, also un-oaked, fresh, juicy red wines like Beaujolais.

4. Pair roast turkey with fresh, un-oaked red wines for their forward fruit flavors, or with white moscato or Viognier for its peachy notes. Try to pair it also with dry or sweet rosé, which goes beautifully with the roasted meat and stuffing.

5. Pair roast beef or steak with robust red wines to complement the “caramelization” of the meat. Meat juices, in turn, soften the tannins of red wine. Try to pair it also with Bordeaux or Burgundy or Argentine Malbec whose floral notes lighten the game-y touches of the beef.


6. Pair calderetta with Reserva and Gran Reserva Spanish reds, or with Bordeaux or robust California cabernets and Spicy Zinfandels. A strong Australian Shiraz goes perfectly with the dish and do other big reds that foil the richness of goat meat.

7. Perfect for lechon with sarsa is Champagne, whose acidity and effervescent character stand up to the fatty, crisp skin. Without sauce, lechon goes well with spicy Spanish reds like crianzas from Valencia or Navarra, or California Zinfandels or cabernet franc, thanks to their capsicum-like character.


8. Galantina is a perfect match to delicious, dry Sparkling wines, or rosé and German Rieslings. They are a good complement to the mixed flavors of the chicken, sausage, chorizo, ham, and vegetables.

9. Queso de Bola will do well with medium or big red wines, Italian Amarones, Brunellos, or Tempranillos from Spain, as well as cabernets and Bordeaux.

10. Cheese is a little trickier. Pair goat cheeses with sauvignon blanc, creamy cheeses with chardonnay, and hard or mature cheeses with pinot noir or cabernets.

11. Prawns go best with well-chilled sauvignon blanc. The latter’s fruit-forward character and acidity stand up to the crustacean flavors. If prawns are cooked in cream, a chardonnay could also be a good pair.


12. Pair paella or Valenciana with young, Spanish red wines, or with merlot for its fruit forward character. The dish is also perfect with un-oaked red wines, sauvignon blanc, or Gewurtztraminer, if the rice has a lot of seafood. Brut or dry, Spanish sparkling cavas are a perfect choice, too.

13. Pair morcon with Californian or Chilean reds. Chianti adds sweetness and roundness to the tomato sauce and caramelized meat flavors.

14. Cocido with mixed flavors of poached meat and vegetables goes well with young or light red wines, or fruity and floral German whites.

15. Lengua, with brown or mushroom sauces, pairs well with reserve or heavy reds. Those with creamier sauces match well with chardonnays, sparkling wines, and champagne.

16. Tomato-based baked pasta jives with Chiantis, which smoothen the acidity of the tomatoes and increase the umami in cheese. Chilean
or new world merlots are a good choice, too.

17. Pastel, particularly those with mushrooms and brown sauce, are best paired with medium to heavy reds. With pastels on white sauce, chardonnays or sparkling wines do better, accentuating the creaminess.


18. Pancit luglug matches perfectly with well-chilled or sparkling rosé. New Zealand sauvignon blancs foil the rich combination of smoked fish, chicharon, and woodsy annatto oil.

19. Match pork or chicken barbecue with Chilean or new world merlots. Spicy California red zinfandels are also good barbecue
wines, mixing well with the smoky and sweet garlicky glazes of the barbecue.

20. Leche flan tastes better with late-harvest dessert wines, German and Austrian auslese, or spalese, or white moscato and muscatel.


21. Do it better with rum cake matched with muscatel or Pedro Ximenez sherry that gives an accent to the rum glaze and buttery cake.

22. Pair sans rival with white moscato, champagne, and other sparkling wines.

23. Fruit cake go well with dark, sweet Pedro Ximenez or cream sherries, or old, late harvest wines.

24. Fruit salad matches well with champagne and sparkling wines, late harvest or German auslese and spatlese, and white moscato.

Notice that, in these festive food pairings, champagne and sparkling wines appear the most since they blend with most types of food and are the go-to-wine for many occasions. Such wines will even blend with a cigar as a final course to a grand meal.

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