One way to choose a wine for your upcoming holiday gathering is to pair it with the centerpiece of the spread: the roasted bird. Here are four favorite fowls of the season, with wines to match.
Keeping in mind that most holiday meals are daytime events, I’ve kept the choices bright and light—they’ll stand up to the foods, without weighing you down. After all, with a houseful of your favorite people around, you have better things to do than sneak away for a post-feast nap. And speaking of a houseful, these wines are priced well to pour for a crowd.
Chardonnay—like roast turkey—is a real crowd pleaser, but you’ll want a none-too-oaky, food-friendly bottle. Snoqualmie 2009 Naked Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, WA; $12) brings delightful pear notes framed by a lemony finish for a great balance between fruitiness and refreshment.
Duck is a favorite at French tables, so why not reach for a classic French wine? Medium-bodied and low in tannins, Louis Jadot 2009 Beaujolais Villages (Beaujolais, France; $12) offers ripe, red-berry flavors and subtle layer of spice, providing a zesty contrast to this rich bird.
While a fruity and smooth red Zinfandel would match this super-plump, moist and meaty bird well, for something more off the beaten path, try Feudi di San Marzano 2010 Primitivo (Puglia, Italy; $12); It’s made from 100% Primitivo (Zinfandel’s Italian cousin), and pours a glass full of cherry-berry fruit notes, but with a refreshing zest on the finish.
CORNISH GAME HENS
These little birds make for an elegant way to serve just two or a few. For an equally elegant wine to go alongside, reach for Pinot Noir. Irony 2009 Monterey County Pinot Noir (Monterey; $14) leans toward the fruitier side of this grape, with ripe cherry and strawberry notes, lush tannins and a fine structure.
—By Wini Moranville