Last week we began our look at holiday menus with a discussion of apéritifs and appetizers. This week and next we’ll look at ideas for main courses, and wines that match.
Try a new wine this week!
Left Coast Cellars Cali’s Cuvee
When we’re planning our holiday menus, we’ll have a lot of dishes to consider, from poultry to pork, or beef or lamb or game. For some of us wine fans, we’ll pick the wine first, then find a dish that we think we’ll like with it. For many more of us, though, we’ll start with the food.
If you’re like me, you’ll greet your guests with a glass of sparkling wine (French Champagne for a splurge, Spanish or California for better bargains), or maybe a lighter-bodied dry white (something like a pinot grigio, maybe a sauvignon blanc). If the menu includes an appetizer course before the main course, our guests might have a somewhat fuller-bodied white wine, maybe a chardonnay. Ultimately, we get to the main course.
If the main course on your holiday menu is chicken or pork, here are some simple ideas from my experiences over the past quarter-century of holiday eating and drinking.
First, if I’m serving chicken for a holiday main course, it’s probably not fried. As much as I love fried chicken, I’d lean more toward a richer French preparation, something with a sauce, especially one that pairs well with red wine (since it’s probably chilly outside). One classic Burgundian dish that I like to bring back once in a while is something the French call coq a vin (chicken braised in red wine).
You can find many recipes for this classic, wine-friendly dish, but good ones will include browning the chicken in bacon drippings (adding back the bacon later), removing the chicken to sauté onions, carrots, maybe celery, then adding the chicken back to the pan and braising over a long period of time in a combination of stock and red wine (pinot noir, which came originally from France’s Burgundy region). Mushrooms are added later, and garlic is an option, too. Thicken the sauce at some point.
Roast pork, cooked pretty much the same way (browning then braising, making a sauce from the remaining liquid, though I might omit the bacon), is another deliciously wine-friendly dish.