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Wines to match a special holiday feast

By: By Lucy Haines

  |  Posted: Saturday, Dec 07, 2013 06:00 am

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  • FINE WINE – Rosanne Winter-Repchuk, and Richard Repchuk, say that pairing wine and food at the holidays can be a great way to experiment with classic tastes and new experiences.
    FINE WINE – Rosanne Winter-Repchuk, and Richard Repchuk, say that pairing wine and food at the holidays can be a great way to experiment with classic tastes and new experiences.
    CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette
  • RED AND WHITE – Both red and white wines can create a variety of different flavours on the pallate and even sparkling wines have a place at the dinner table this holiday season.
    RED AND WHITE – Both red and white wines can create a variety of different flavours on the pallate and even sparkling wines have a place at the dinner table this holiday season.

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Looking for wines that work with Christmas dinner, a New Year’s meal or any festive feast? Wine and food pairings are top of mind for even the novice holiday host who wants to make the right choices for a special December meal. What wine goes with turkey? How about with roast beef and all the trimmings? Should it be the same wine throughout, or a different selection with dessert?

Sommeliers Richard Repchuk and Rosanne Winter-Repchuk run regular weekly wine tastings at the Campbell Liquor Store, guiding sometimes overwhelmed shoppers through the maze of choices: whites, reds, sparkling, fortified wines and more.

“Christmas dinner is hard to pick a single wine for,” said Richard Repchuk. “Something light and fruity like a merlot or pinot noir, or a highly acidic riesling all work well with flavours of cranberry, ham, turkey or even goose.”

While the couple agrees that, in the end, people should drink whatever tastes good to them, combining food and wine flavours makes things a bit trickier than just drinking the wine on its own. And those flavours will either complement or conflict with each other, so if you want to enhance the taste of your turkey, stuffing and gravy, rather than detract from or overpower it, experts agree it’s worth a bit of thought. And whether it’s a $15 bottle or a money-no-object one, buyers certainly want the money to be well spent.

“Sparkling wines, like a Champagne or Spanish cava – both very good choices – can go with just about anything from potato chips and popcorn to poultry, ham and shellfish,” said Winter-Repchuk.” Tawny ports go especially well with dried fruit, nuts, some aged cheeses and shortbread, while late-bottled vintage ports are great with chocolate, chocolate desserts and fudge.”

The energetic and informative pair have provided a list of under and over $20 options for Christmas wines, so make a point of stopping by Campbell Liquor Dec. 13 and 14.

“It can be confusing, so sometimes people find something they like and stick with it. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we’re here to show people what else is possible,” Repchuk said.

Bill Medak, manager of Unwined on St. Albert Trail, said he likewise thinks about balancing the wine and food, whatever the occasion. For highly-acidic traditional Christmas meals, Medak said fruity ‘New World’ pinot noirs from the northwest U.S. are a good bet, but “Old World” European wines, sometimes more earthy in character, can work too. Medak also likes the green-apple-ish notes of a riesling for a Christmas meal.

“The holidays are such a food-heavy time, so I like to keep wine on the lighter side. But if the meal includes roast beef, rich gravy and Yorkshire pudding, go ahead with full-bodied reds like a cabernet sauvignon or syrah,” Medak said.

“There’s the light-bodied Beaujolais, a fruitier style zinfandel, a dry white like a chardonnay – the most important thing is to enjoy, and maybe even try more than one type of wine at the dinner,” added Winter-Repchuk.


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