This holiday season, you’re going to read a lot of wine-pairing advice. But here’s the most important bit of wine-pairing advice anyone can ever give or receive: Drink what you like.
If you like riesling with charcoal-grilled ribeye, people might look at you funny, but who cares? You like it. Trust yourself.
That said, there are some wines that generally work better with certain foods. Some of these are listed below.
Remember that preparation is everything. Simply grilled cod with a squirt of lemon is a very different dish from pan-roasted cod with mushrooms and a red wine reduction.
Think of these pairing ideas as guidelines — a framework from which you can explore your own palate.
Peconic Bay scallops from Braun Seafood: Paumanok Vineyards 2015 Sauvignon Blanc
These sweet little nuggets of bivalve deliciousness are at their best when cooked simply — or even thinly sliced and eaten raw. Seared quickly in butter with a squirt of lemon and a sprinkling of whatever fresh herbs you have, they sing. Paumanok’s brisk, citrusy sauvignon blanc matches perfectly — bringing more of that citrusy acidity and just the faintest grassy-herbal note.
Long Island duck from Crescent Duck Farm: Macari Vineyards 2013 Reserve Cabernet Franc
With great balance between juicy red fruit — fruit you might even use to sauce a seared breast — and cabernet franc’s woodsy spiciness, this pairing is a no-brainer. The overt green or herbal edge found in some cabernet franc isn’t really present here. Instead, the varietal character comes through more as savory fennel notes, a great complement to many duck preparations.
Turkey from Miloski’s Poultry Farm: Southold Farm + Cellar 2015 “Love Habit” Cabernet Franc
Another cabernet franc — because the grape is so versatile and food-friendly. Several wines and styles work well with turkey. It’s a rather bland meat on its own, after all. Southold F+C’s cabernet franc is juicy and super-fresh, with the kind of acidity and flavors you might find in cranberry sauce, and a savory herbal edge that will play quite nicely with that stuffing on the side of your plate.
Cod from Southold Fish Market: Roanoke Vineyards 2015 “The Wild” Chardonnay
Because it’s firmer and thicker than more delicate flaky fish like flounder or branzino, you want a wine that is bright and acidic, but also a bit more concentrated and richer without being overwhelming. This unoaked chardonnay balances citrusy freshness with just enough weight to stand up to slightly meatier fish dishes.
Filet mignon from Goodale Farms: Shinn Estate Vineyards 2013 Wild Boar Doe
Red wine with steak is almost a given, but filet mignon isn’t just any steak. It’s not as intensely flavored as some cuts and because it is lean and tender, you don’t need big, chewy tannins to cut through all that richness. Shinn’s blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot deftly balances concentrated flavors with ripe tannins, making it an ideal pairing.
Lamb from 8 Hands Farm: Lenz Winery 2012 Estate Selection Merlot
Wine with just a bit more bottle age will start to take on secondary and tertiary flavors well beyond the fruit and oak flavors of its youth. Those added layers of flavor — earth and spice and graphite — make this classic Long Island merlot a willing and able partner with the slightly gamey deliciousness of lamb.
Pork from 8 Hands Farm: McCall Wines 2013 Hillside Pinot Noir
Perhaps even more versatile than cod, pork can be used in an endless array of dishes. Still, pork and pinot noir is a classic pairing for a reason. Long Island isn’t pinot noir country by any means, but McCall’s wines are consistently delicious — flavorful and complex without being too heavy or overpowering for most pork dishes.