Pair It Up! Holiday Smorgasbord

We all get inundated with pairings for classic dishes like ham and turkey every time a holiday rolls around and it starts to feel a little stale. That's why I liked Kurtis' post last week—he takes on the common party fare. I've been tasked with the final Pair It Up before the holidays and I also wanted to have a little fun with it. I've decided to lay out a smorgasbord of the kinds of dishes you're likely to encounter on dinner tables over the next few weeks and find a wine or two that should pair nicely.

While scouring online recipes for the holidays, I came across Food & Wine Magazine's 7 Show Stopping Prime Rib Recipes. While pairing wine with prime rib won't win me any points for originality, one recipe jumped out at me as potentially being one of the best imaginable partners for South Okanagan Syrah. Syrah has really found a home in certain parts of the Okanagan—as they tend to in France, the wines flaunt very aromatic black pepper notes, they can also take on a very fragrant sage character, an aroma that some winemakers will tell you comes from the South Okanagan terroir. So, how about Salt and Pepper Crusted Prime Rib with Sage Jus? Check out Le Vieux Pin 2012 Syrah, Laughing Stock 2013 Syrah, or Moon Curser 2012 Contraband Syrah.

My grandparents' answer to Brussels sprouts was to boil them until they lost their crunch and took on a rubbery flavour. It was no wonder why a whole generation of my extended family hated them so much. Recently, we started sautéing up Mark Bittman's Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Figs and it's become one of the fastest disappearing dishes on the table. For something new, I liked the look of another New York Times recipe: Sautéed Brussels Sprouts and Apple With Prosciutto. Green vegetables can be a bit tricky sometimes, but try a grassy white like Sauvignon Blanc—something a bit juicier to handle the apples and pork. Try Clos du Soleil 2013 Capella, or venture into Pinot Blanc territory with Konzelmann 2013 Pinot Blanc.

I recently stumbled upon Western Living Magazine's rules for How to Create the Ideal Cheese Plate for a Party. Cheese plates are one of the ultimate entertaining platters during the holidays and Janice Beaton has very wisely chosen Champagne as a pairing partner. It gets challenging when you have a range of cheese styles and only one wine, but I also really like Amontillado, or a nutty sherry with a touch of sweetness. Gewürztraminers like the Trail Estate 2013 Reserve Gewürztraminer or Thornhaven 2014 Gewurztraminer will also do the trick. And for something off-the-beaten-track, try a craft cider like Coteau Rougemont Rose Framboise.

In a jumble of holiday recipes from Food & Wine Magazine, I found the very simple, yet delicious recipe for Doughnuts in Cardamom Syrup. The fried dough is a perfect vehicle for light flavours of lemon, almonds, rose water, and cardamom. For me, this dessert screams for Moscato d'Asti—something slightly sweet and sparkling with many complementary flavours. Also, try Benjamin Bridge 2013 Nova 7.

Nanaimo Bars are one of the baked goods that I'll probably find myself eating several of over the next few weeks. The ultimate pairing for Nanaimo Bars is probably a dark cup of black coffee, but why not a regional pairing like Unsworth Vineyards' Ovation? Marechal Foch made in a solera system. Also, try the delightful Elephant Island Stellaport.

2012 Syrah         2013 Syrah          2012 Contraband Syrah          2014 Capella        2013 Pinot Blanc         2013 Gewurztraminer       2014 Gewurztraminer          Rose Framboise        2013 Nova 7       Ovation       Stellaport

Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.

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