Holiday Wine Challenge Part 1: Turkey? Ham? Red? White? Rose?

What’s your traditional holiday meal? Is it turkey? Ham? Prime Rib? Or something a lot less carnivorous?

Once you figure out the main course as well as the sides, what wine do you choose to pair with the cornucopia that will overflow on your table and in your belly. (What wine do you think they’re drinking in this classic photo from the collection of Charles Phoenix?)

And how do you decide which wine to choose?

Pinot noir or Beaujolais, both light red wines, seem to be all the rage and the recommendations from wine influencers. In fact, when Rick Bakas posted the question on his facebook profile (“Pinot noir of Beaujolais?) most people answered one or the other, with just a few people offering other suggestions including Barbera and Petite Sirah. Read here about how the pinot noir trend started on Oprah!

However, when I have tasted pinot noir and Beaujolais with holiday feasts of turkey and ham, these wines were good but not that exciting.

So what’s a Wine Blogger to do?

In the call of duty, I convinced my husband to cook a turkey BEFORE Thanksgiving. AND I convinced him to cook a ham too! (It wasn’t that hard actually; we enjoy turkey and ham as often as possible!) Then I lined up a bunch of wines, many of them samples sent in the hopes of a recommendation for YOUR holiday table, and I tried them with the turkey and the trimmings.


Turkey: Kosher, brined, Trader Joe’s ($2.49 a pound for a 13# bird), rubbed with fresh rosemary, lemon and other secrets of my husband (which took about an hour),  cooked on the BBQ for three hours, resting for 15 minutes before carving. (Always use a thermometer!)

Dressing: Trader Joe’s cornbread dressing as directed for stovetop substituting chicken broth and a splash of white wine for the water.

Side: Steamed brussel spouts, bacon, chestnuts.

Because I didn’t have time to make a gravy and there were only three of us, I poured the drippings onto the dressing and the brussel sprouts (oh lordy that’s good!)

Salad: Baby mixed greens with fresh raspberries and blackberries dressed with huckleberry vinagrette and Spanish olive oil.


I tasted the wines “straight”, then with various items from the menu. All wines were in the same stemware. At first I went from whites to reds, light to heavier, then mixed it up using the food to change my palate. I didn’t really know what the bottles retailed for until I researched and wrote the blog posts.

A few WHITE and ROSE Wines: Continue reading