Ask A Sommelier: Holiday Wine Pairings

December 20, 2017

We know one thing for sure about wine: we like it.

For most beverages, this is enough. But wine, well, wine is a little different

—especially this time of year. While we’d argue any rosé pairs well with Netflix and takeout, holiday gatherings call for a little more finesse.

Luckily, we have a sommelier for that. Bobby Domenick is the director of beverages at Philadelphia’s esteemed Vetri Cucina, whose meticulously curated cellar is home to some 2,500 bottles. Despite these fancy credentials, he’s less of a wine snob than your brother-in-law.

“The best bottle of wine is the bottle of wine you enjoy,” says Bobby. “I love giving our guests suggestions, but really, the most important thing is that they like drinking it.”

Not sure what to pour with Christmas dinner? Whether you’re serving seafood or turkey, red meat or veggies, Bobby has you covered. Read on for his pairing notes and a few of his favorite holiday bottles.

“If you were on holiday in Forte dei Marmi, a picturesque seaside town in Italy, dining along the sea, feasting on langoustines, scampi, and scallops, you would be drinking some sort of white from the surrounding area. Most likely Vermentino, the Italian white varietal that grows so well under the Tuscan sun. Typically light to medium body, incredibly fresh with notes of grapefruit citrus, melon rind, and crisp minerality, Vermentino will quench your thirst and pair with almost any seafood without overpowering.”

Try this: La Spinetta Toscana Vermentino 2016 ($17.99)

“I think of beef as a special occasion meat, and it’s a personal favorite around the holidays. Brunello di Montalcino is a special wine and one that can stand up to its many preparations, whether grilled al la Fiorentina, braised or roasted. The current vintage for Brunello is 2012, which is fantastic, but if you can find a Brunello with age, even better. These wines can age for decades! If you don’t want to splurge, try a Rosso di Montalcino—same grape, but from the younger vines and released much sooner.”

Try these: Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Brunello di Montalcino 2012 ($45.99); Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Rosso di Montalcino 2015 ($25.99)

“Vegetarian dishes can range wildly in flavor profile, so a white or red could work here. For white I’d suggest a dry Riesling from the old world. I’ve been to Alsace and just love the region and the Rieslings from there. Keep an eye out for a “cru” on the label and an older vintage—Riesling with age is incredible.  For a red, try Pinot Noir from Burgundy—a perfect balance between fruit and earth, it and can be one of the most complex wines in the world.

Try these: Dom. Michel Gros Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Rouge 2014 ($35); Dom Ostertag Riesling 2013 ($25)

“Pork is often considered the ‘other white meat,’ so a white wine could easily fit the bill here—especially a fatter, richer white from Burgundy. But it being the holidays and a main course, I’d like to suggest my all-time favorite red: Barbaresco, from the hills of Piedmont and made exclusively from the Nebbiolo grape. Prices ranges from $30 up into the hundreds, but you can find great wines in the $40-$60 range.”

Try these: Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco Martinenga 2012 or 2010 ($50);
Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco 2013 ($30)

“Barbera is one of the most versatile food pairing wines. It can really go with almost anything, especially poultry. Dark in color, low in tannin but high in acidity, it’s a particularly great food match. It’s an easy drinking red, but not boring, and available in a range of styles and price points.”

Try these: Oddero, Barbera d’Alba 2015 ($15.99); Azelia Barbera d’Alba 2013 “Punta” ($25.99); La Spinetta Barbera’d Asti 2013 ($49.99)

Cheers to the holidays: shop glassware here.