In my family, Christmas means prime rib. My grandma does the whole English roast supper: Yorkshire pudding, jacket potatoes, creamed spinach, and, of course, green beans with crispy onion strings on top. And, of course, at the centerpiece is a massive piece of beef, deliciously rare, with a side of whipped horseradish cream.
But what to drink with such a feast? As much as it might surprise you to hear me say it, my first recommendation is….
- California Cabernet Sauvignon. I know, I know. Steer clear of Napa Valley and it’s over-inflated prices, egos, and wine makers, and look toward cooler climate regions like Northern Sonoma County or the Santa Cruz Mountains.
- Northern Rhone Syrah. It’s tough to find values in this low-production, highly-sought region, but a good Crozes-Hermitage can be found in the $25 dollar range and the smoky, leathery notes compliment a good roast impeccably.
- If more juicy ripe fruit is what you need, perhaps Cotes du Rhone is more up your alley. Typically Grenache-dominant, these blends have bright red fruit flavors and a peppery spice, and are mellow enough for vegetarian dishes and poultry if you’re a turkey and goose family. (Turkey & Goose is also a new mixology bar opening in The Mission).
- Central Coast Pinot Noir, in particular, is a very good fit for those lighter meals of Christmas salmon or ham. I mention Central Cali because these tend to be a bit riper and richer so they won’t be overwhelmed by the stronger dishes as well.
- Do you need white wine? Winter food needs full-bodied white wines. I recommend against California Chardonnay but a White Burgundy could fit the bill. So-called California Rhone Blends made up of some combination of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier are also a perfect fit. In a pinch, a Sauvignon Blanc rarely disappoints, especially with appetizers. And, of course, Champagne goes with everything.
What’re your favorite winter wines?