Wining And Dining

By Diane Schlindwein

September 12, 2008 5 min read

WINING AND DINING

Celebrate the holidays by popping open a bottle

Diane Schlindwein

Creators News Service

There's no better time than the holiday season to toast family and friends with a fine glass of wine.

By following a few simple directions, hosts and hostesses can please and impress all their visitors, Krista Zilnicki, public relations director at Pernod Ricard USA, said.

Wine pairings are important when serving guests at a meal or a party. The best pace to start is at the beginning.

"Aperitif wines are perfect for cleansing the palate before you have your meal," she said. "Champagne is a perfect aperitif." She recommends Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut NV and the GH Mumm Cordon Rouge as two excellent wines, "that will get the evening off to a sparkling start."

Since many people serve turkey over the holidays, Zilnicki suggested pairing it with a Pinot Noir, a dry rose, or Sparkling Shiraz. For a white wine with turkey, try a dry Riesling from Australia such as the Jacob's Creek Reserve Riesling 2007.

For fish such as white fish, oysters, clams or ceviche, Brancott Sauvignon Blanc 2007 from New Zealand or the Graffigna Pinot Grigio 2007 are both fine choices. However, don't discount the reds.

"You can pair light red wines with fish, especially if the fish is grilled or of a meatier texture such as salmon, swordfish, or tuna. For these a Pinot Noir works perfectly," Zilnicki said. She suggested Stoneleigh Pinot Noir from New Zealand.

When serving a roast or pork tenderloin main course, a red from Rioja such as the Campo Viejo Reserva ($12) or the Graffigna Centenario Malbec ($13) is the perfect match, she said. Other options are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz.

For dessert, try pairing sweets with a sweeter wine -- or pairing desserts with fortified wines. "Some favorite pairings are chocolate-based desserts with a ruby port such as Sandeman Founder's Reserve," she said, "or a bold red wine can also go nicely with chocolate. For almond or caramel flavored desserts, a tawny port is a wonderful match." She recommended Sandeman 10 Years Old Tawny Port ($39.99) as a perfect example.

"If you have a fruit based dessert such as a lemon tart or strawberry sweets, a sparkling rose or sparkling wine can balance out the sweetness and tartness of these desserts," she said.

Because wines come in a variety of price ranges, it's best to do some research or ask a few questions at a favorite wine shop. "A typical champagne from the Champagne region in France will start at about $35 for a non-vintage brut and then increase in price depending if it is rose, vintage, or a special limited edition," Zilnicki said. For a more affordable option, sparkling wines from California, such as Mumm Napa, run from $17 to $28 per bottle.

Sparkling wine from Australia and some regions in Italy and Spain can range in price anywhere from $8 a bottle to $15 per bottle, depending on the vineyard. Zilnicki recommended Jacob's Creek Sparkling Rose ($12) as an affordable option for large parties. It's made in the same fashion as traditional champagne, but costs less.

Pernod Ricard USA products can be purchased at many local grocery stores, Costco, independent retail shops, Super Value Chains and restaurants and hotels across the country. However, there are many great options to get your wine.

"Wine.com and 1-877-Spirits.com are two great sites where you can order wine and have it shipped direct to you," she said. "Many California wineries also have direct shipping options."

Of course, not all wineries are located in California. You can even offer guests a wine from an unexpected place, Michele Slott, marketing director for Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City, S.D., suggested.

"We sell most of our wine through the winery, but we ship to over half the states," he said. The winery offers several unique wines that can't be found anywhere else.

"We have several seasonal wines that are very popular," he said. "Pumpkin Bog is a blend that has a cranberry nose and a pumpkin finish that goes great with turkey and ham. We also have a dry red wine called Jingle," Slott said.

However, for a non-seasonal wine, he suggested their Seyval Blanc. "Our most prestigious award so far has been Best Seyval Blanc at the San Francisco International Wine Competition in 2007," he said. However, many of their wines have won awards across the country.

For more information on how to find or order from Prairie Berry Winery, go to prairieberry.com. To find a winery in any part of the country, go to allamericanwineries.com.

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