Going for Seconds at Christmas

A bit early but Merry Christmas! One of the things I love about the holidays is the additional opportunity to eat and induldge. It’s a whole season where you are encouraged to eat! The term ‘holiday weight’ is appropo! I don’t particularly mind this because it gives me a chance to spend time with family and friends. Isn’t that what the holidays are about? And for those dinners, it seems like prime rib or Christmas hams are on the table. Turkey too, but I think a lot of people are still recovering from the volume of turkey they had four weeks ago. So in the spirit of that post, here are some wine pairings to consider for the big Christmas dinner.

Prime rib

Also, called standing rib roast (if the bones are still attached) – it doesn’t necessarily need to be USDA Prime, it just needs to be comprised heavily of ribeye steaks from the rib section of the cow. It’s delightfully excellent and pretty simple to make. Definitely much easier to make than turkey – surprisingly. In fact, the Cooking for Engineers folk broke down what it takes to make a standing rib roast. Foodista also has a very simple take on making prime rib. I also love this article by Cathy Thomas, because she touches on an oft-overlooked side; horseradish!

So you have some recipes on making prime, what wine will you have with it? Just like turkey dinner, you can’t really go wrong with a pairing. Definitely lean towards reds. The tannins and body of most red wines will play nicely with the fat and heft of red meat.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice. Right now I really enjoy the Cab from Five Star Cellars in Walla Walla. It will definitely be a nice match.
  • Merlot – Definitely go for the heavier ones. I really, really like the Merlot from Otis Kenyon. Another star from Walla Walla, this merlot will convert any wine snob towards Merlot.
  • Petit Sirah – Also known as Durif, this is also a favorite. Strong, a bit of pepper, and tannins that are similar to biting into a wool sock – the Petite Sirah from Vincent Arroyo is a shining example of this grape.
  • Other reds that would be excellent with Prime Rib: Bordeaux type wines, hefty Pinot Noirs, Syrah, and Zinfandel
  • If you don’t want to go the wine route, single-malt whisky would be a nice partner.

Christmas ham

A truly traditional meal to have with Christmas dinner, Christmas ham is the type of dinner that the whole family could gather around. I think it’s because a massive piece of ham allows everyone to stuff themselves. There is a bit of history to the Christmas ham and now tables across the country are adding it as a part of their family history.

I think the key component of Christmas ham is the sweet glaze that most identify with. That sweet-savory balance is a winner and with this meal, most will enjoy it. In fact, some people even look to cook ham with Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper to boost up the flavor. Wacky southerners.

If you’re thinking of bringing wine over, you definitely have a fair bit of choices to consider, but you shouldn’t go for something too overpowering. The flavors of Christmas ham are a bit more delicate, so a wine that showcases these nuances would be a good idea. The delightful Natalie MacLean suggests wine from Burgundy. Found this out from her very cool food/wine pairing tool. Other wines to try out:

  • Beaujolais – This bright red wine would be a really nice pairing with ham. The flavors are juicy and would balance with the sweetness of ham. I really like it.
  • Riesling – I think some Rieslings are perfect food wines because their acidity is perfect for almost all foods. Same goes with ham. And one Riesling that you can find everywhere is the Dry Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle. It’s about $10, has won numerous awards, and available nationwide. I drink this one often.

Enjoy your Christmas dinner! Drink up, eat lots, and soak it all in. Happy Holidays indeed.