Five Quick Tips for Picking the Ultimate Holiday Wine


Red White and Drunk all OverNew York (December, 2007) – “You can deck the table with red and white wines, but which one goes best with holiday turkey?” asks Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. “Choosing just one bottle to drink with turkey and all the trimmings can make you feel like Scrooge, especially with so many flavors to match.” Relax. Have a drink. And try some of Natalie’s suggestions for great wines with a variety of holiday meals.  In Red, White and Drunk All Over Natalie discusses wine and food pairing for multi-course meals.

Her free online matching tool at complements the in-depth discussion in her book by allowing you to click on “turkey holiday dinner” to find wines that accompany all kinds of dishes, from roast turkey to turducken, from creamed corn to pecan pie.

Natalie also offers five quick tips for choosing a terrific turkey wine:

1. Start with bubbly. Sparkling wine is a great aperitif to sip while you wait for the turkey to finish cooking. It adds a celebratory note to begin the meal with a toast and goes well with starters like soup and salad.

2. Consider the turkey. Unlike most poultry and game birds, turkey meat is very dry in texture. So you need a mouth-watering wine to complement it. Good options are crisp whites like riesling and pinot grigio. And yes you can drink red wine with white meat: pinot noir, beaujolais and zinfandel all have juicy, berry-ripe flavors that go well with turkey.

3. Look beyond the bird. The range of side dishes means that you don’t have to match your wine just to the turkey. Since holiday dinners are often banquet-style meals, with everyone choosing the trimmings, why not do the same with your wines? Offer both red and white, and possibly more than one depending on the size of your group.

4. Complement or contrast. A big, buttery chardonnay from California or Chile can complement the roasted, smoky flavors of squash, chestnuts and pecan stuffing. But if you’d rather have a contrast to the richness of cream sauces and dressings, try a crisp New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

5. End on a sweet note. If anyone still has room left when it’s time for mincemeat pie, fruit cake or plum pudding, offer a late harvest wine or icewine. If you’re a chocolate fan, try serving a liqueur with complementary flavors such as raspberry or blackcurrant.

These wines also work well with holiday goose and duck. Natalie’s online wine matching tool also allows you to pair wine with other meats, game, pizza, egg dishes, TV dinners, breads and desserts. Visitors simply search by wine for meal inspirations or by food to find great wine choices. The site has thousands of food and wine combinations, as well as recipes for those planning holiday parties.

The matching tool is updated regularly, as Natalie responds to her readers’ suggestions for more dishes and wines. Many of these suggestions come from the 80,000 subscribers to her free e-newsletter, Nat Decants, which offers tips on how to buy, cellar and serve wine. Got a dish or a wine to stump Natalie? E-mail her via the web site and she’ll suggest a match for you. Happy holidays!

About the Author

Natalie MacLean has won four James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award. Rex Pickett, author of Sideways, says that Natalie “writes about wine with a sensuous obsession” and is “often laugh-out-loud funny.” Eric Asimov of The New York Times notes, “Ms. MacLean is the disarming Everywoman … she loves wine, loves drinking … a winning formula.” The Financial Times observes: “Natalie MacLean is a new force in the wine writing world—a feisty North American answer to Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson.”

Author/Sommelier Natalie MacLean suggests gobbling good wines at

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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