Prepping the perfect holiday menu can be notoriously stressful, especially if you’re hosting the family dinner and are charged with choosing the wine. But how do you know which wine goes best with which dish? Sommelier Cha McCoy is used to getting these types of questions around the holiday season. The civil engineer turned wine connoisseur fell in love with wine in Rome while obtaining her MBA, and later founded The Communion, a casual pop-up wine dinner McCoy throws in her native New York and around the globe. Her tip for wine newbies? “Good wine comes at all prices and from all around the world. It’s about finding what varietals and styles you enjoy and learning them by tasting different producers. And never forget that there is a wine for all meals and every type of cuisine. The fun part is doing the research by tasting enough wine until you find your perfect match.” If you’re looking to perfect wine to pair with your holiday dishes, McCoy got you covered with these expert tips sure to elevate your experience, and make your meal the toast of the town.
For collard greens, candied yams, cranberry sauce, Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara, California works best. The Cha List Recommendation: Au Bon Climat 2016 Santa Barbara County. Tasting Notes: Pinots from southern California higher in ripe fruit will get more cherry, and cranberry notes, and fresh greens. For mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing, Natural Chardonnay from Napa Valley are a must. The Cha List Recommendation: Donkey & Goat Linda Vista 2017 aged 8 months in French Oak. Tasting Notes: Nice slight creamy texture that goes well with buttery and breaded dishes.
The star of any Thanksgiving table is the roasted turkey, so only the best varietal (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvede – Dry Red Blend) wines from Napa Valley will do. The Cha List Recommendation: Vermillion 2014. Tasting Notes: Black cherries, ripe plum, medium body, zippy acidity and baking spices.
Glazed Spiral Hams work well with Dry Red Zinfandel wines. The Cha List Recommendation: Brown Estate 2014 (Which is Black-owned and operated). Tasting Notes: Bright red fruit characters like a red apple and strawberry.
Sweet Potato and Pecan Pie
Classic desserts call for a classic pairing. Amontillado Sherry, a fortified wine from Jerez, Spain is a smooth combination. The Cha List Recommendation: Bodegas Alvear NV. Tasting: Notes: Perfect nutty, saline, and caramel character.