THE BEST WINE PAIRINGS FOR THE CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER
Get to know the main rules for a good pairing. Gather your family and friends and have fun finding the best combinations between wine and the typical flavours of this season.
pairing wine with food, the expectation is that this combination will result in an even more pleasurable experience than the one we would have if we tasted that dish and that wine separately.
This interaction results in new sensations, which are based on the combination of the characteristics of each element. The goal here is to find the best combination to enhance these positive sensations.
Pairings thus open doors to an endless world of combinations and different experiences.
This Christmas, we propose that you gather your family and friends and that, together, you set out to discover successful and surprising pairings. We leave you some notes on how wines and food can interact so that you can successfully overcome this challenge.
Pairings: a dialogue that goes beyond flavours
When tasting a dish, our taste buds adapt to the characteristics of that food, changing the perception of the components of the element that we taste afterwards, in this case, the wine.
In general terms, food has a greater impact on how we will feel the wine rather than the other way around.
Contrary to what many people may think, a successful pairing does not depend on the combination of wine and food flavours. It results from the way the structural components of each of these elements behave in the presence of each other. By knowing these interactions, the pairing tries to establish a balance in order to combine the characteristics of the wine and the dish, preventing ones from overlapping the others.
Among the components that most influence a pairing, we have sweet, salty, umami, sour, spicy and bitter.
> Pairing a wine with a sweet dish
The sweetness of a dish increases the perception of bitterness, astringency, and acidity in the wine. At the same time, it reduces the perception of its body, sweetness, and the presence of fruit.
Thus, to pair dishes with a high level of sugar, a good rule to follow is to choose a wine that has a higher degree of sweetness than the dish.
> Pairing a wine with a dish with a high level of umami
Although it is difficult to identify it individually, “umami” - a Japanese word that means “tasty” - is considered the fifth basic taste of the human palate, together with sweet, sour, bitter and salty. It is known to enhance the flavour of food, promoting the feeling of pleasure when eating.
As with sweetness, a dish with a high level of umami tends to make a wine “harder,” more astringent and more bitter in the mouth and, simultaneously, less sweet, and less fruity. In this case, choosing a wine with a strong presence of fruity flavours may result in a successful pairing.
> Pairing a wine with a dish with some sourness
The presence of some sourness in food is generally seen as something positive in a pairing. The sourness of the dish will, on the one hand, help to reduce the perception of acidity in the wine and, on the other hand, enhance its body, its sweetness, and its fruity character.
Foods with an accentuated sourness should therefore be paired with more acidic wines. Otherwise, wines with a low level of acidity may seem too flat and not very clear.
> Pairing a wine with a savoury dish
In general, dishes with a high level of salt also pair well with wine since this component in food will enhance the fruit of a wine and soften its astringency.
> Pairing a wine with a spicy dish
Very spicy dishes can be paired with soft wines and with a low level of tannins since spice enhances the sensation of bitterness and astringency in the wine.
Another of the effects caused by spice is the increase in the burning sensation of the alcohol. In principle, pairing a wine with a lower alcohol content will result in a more balanced choice, although some people like this heat effect.
On the other hand, the perception of the fruity character and the sweetness of the wine can be reduced by the spice, therefore, choosing wines with high levels of fruit and sugar will lessen this effect.
> Pairing a wine with a bitter dish
Bitter flavours tend to add to each other. Thus, dishes with an obvious bitter aftertaste will emphasize the bitterness in the wine, which can lead to an unpleasant pairing. For this sort of dishes, softer and less tannic wines are a safer choice.
The more structural components there are in the dish and in the wine to be paired, the greater the number of possible interactions, which can make pairing more complex, but also produce more interesting results and sensations.
Understanding these types of basic interactions will help guide your choices.
When thinking about a pairing, it is important to pay attention to all the elements that make up a dish, namely sauces and side dishes since these can influence the balance you are looking for.
Searching for the perfect pairing
Finding the best wine to pair with a particular dish is not a linear challenge.
As much as one experts the way a dish can affect the balance of a wine, a pairing must always consider each person’s preferences and sensitivity.
A successful combination for you may not be successful for the person next to you.
This subjectivity means that there is not a unique formula for achieving good pairing.
Therefore, the idea of “perfect pairing” is utopian.
Still, there are combinations that are capable of generating greater consensus. The choice of highly acidic wines to be served with fattier dishes or the combination of sweet and salty flavours are examples of some “classic” combinations that a large number of people like.
As you get to know and understand the most successful pairings, it will be easier for you to take risks and make your own successful combinations.
Suggestions for the best pairings for Christmas Eve dinner
Thinking about Christmas pairings is not an easy task. Not only due to the variety of dishes and flavours at the table, but also due to the diversity of personal tastes that must be combined, given that this is, above all, a family celebration.
Let's make it easier for you. Use the knowledge that we have already shared with you, follow our guidelines, and set out on an adventure in the world of pairings. Take a peek at our wine selection, where you can find wines for all occasions.
How about surprising your guests by offering a Port wine at the beginning of the meal?
To drink with savoury appetizers, a
White Port can be a good option.
air it with dried fruits, ham and cured sausages or smoked fish. For a pairing with pâté, foie gras, or matured cheeses, try the more aromatic character of a Porto Tawny.
Are you one of those people that cannot do without a good selection of seafood for Christmas Eve dinner? This year, take this experience to another level, combining the flavours of the sea with a light and fresh Rosé Wine.
Although it can be prepared in a thousand different ways, the king of the Christmas dinner always keeps its strong flavour, with a salty touch and some fat. A cod dish calls for a wine with an intense flavour, highly acidic and with a low level of tannins. A full-bodied White wine and with a structure capable of combining perfectly with this tasty fish may be an interesting choice.
The same white wine with personality that combined with cod can make a good pairing with boiled octopus, another of the typical dishes of the Christmas season. Alternatively, you can also try a more structured rosé or a light red with balanced tannins.
Turkey and other roasts
Another regular at the Christmas Eve table is roasted turkey with chestnuts, a dish that goes well with an elegant
Red wine medium-bodied and with some freshness.
It should be noted that the meat of this bird has a relatively neutral flavour, which means that the major role of the dish is often due to sauces or side dishes. Thus, it is important to consider the characteristics of these elements since they may determine the ideal wine to pair with.
If you are a fan of roast pork loin, suckling pig or leg of pork, the challenge is slightly different. Although it also has a delicate flavour, pork meat is fattier. So, when thinking about this pairing, look for a wine with a less intense flavour and a higher acidity. A light white, a delicate rosé or a softer red can be good choices for a balanced result.
A traditional roast kid with potatoes deserves a more complex and more bodied red.
If there is still room for dessert, bring the most iconic national wine, Port wine, to this moment. Explore its versatility and find out that there really is a Port for all occasions.
The majority of the typical Christmas sweets, made with eggs, sugar or dried fruits, will pair well with a Port from the Tawny family, a sweeter wine, with accentuated dried fruits, spices, and wood notes. A Tawny is also a good option to pair with soft cheeses.
If you cannot resist a dessert with chocolate or red fruits or if you prefer hard cheeses, you will wish to try the combination with a Ruby Port, , a wine with a more fruity character.
Lastly, if you are a fan of more intense flavours, let yourself be surprised by the combination of dark chocolate, dried fruits or more aged or striking cheeses (such as blue cheese) with the exceptional character of a Vintage Port. t’s highly probable that you will not regret it!
Good reasons to toast on a special night
This Christmas, more than combining dishes and wines, remember that the perfect pairing is made of smiles, good chats and a lot of complicity at the table.
So, do not get too attached to the rules and dare to try different combinations.
Turn this discovery into a funny process and challenge your family and friends to find each one's favourite combinations. The result will be memorable moments, which are those that best pair with the Christmas spirit.
See the suggestions we have for this special night at Uva Wine Shop