A cheat sheet for procrastinators!
Ho, ho, ho! The holidays start now and last through January 1, a festive stretch of entertaining and wine consumption. Don’t know what wine to serve with turkey and stuffing? Or what pairs with crown roast and horseradish cream? Cheese boards and other party bites? Here’s a clip-and-go tip sheet of highly-vetted, palate-pleasing wines for every dish including the butternut squash bisque recipe below. Happy feasting!
Full bodied white wines go with turkey, stuffing, root veggies, lobster, appetizers and cheeses.
Mouthwatering La Pitchoune chenin blanc primes the palate for first bites of assorted cheeses and bruschetta and can segue into turkey dinner. Reasonably priced organic Bonterra viognier (about $12) sports aromas of fresh cut nectarines, orange blossom and notes of oak and vanilla. Erath pinot gris ($13) is a racy one to try, and for tres elegant, splurge on Stony Hill chardonnay or indulgent Gary Farrell chardonnay.
Medium silky reds go with pork, ham, mushroom dishes, cranberry sauce and cranberry relish.
Alexana Winery Dundee Hills estate pinot noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, will wow. The small winery founded by Houstonian Dr. Madaiah Revana produces about 13 pinot noirs, a favorite varietal of the season. Expertly-crafted Olema pinot noir (about $19) is an approachable tier within Amici Cellars. The high-scoring wine line turns every day into a celebration. Also consider velvety Cartograph pinot noir, or multilayered Georges Duboeuf pinot noir, France. Lighter, freshly-released Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Noveau pairs with just about everything. (Serve slightly chilled.)
Bold and exotic reds marry with lamb, beef tenderloin, grilled porterhouse steak and garlicky mashed potatoes.
One of the first Sonoma wineries established in 1858, Gunlach Bundschu now produces abundant red varietals including a spicy, full-bodied estate zinfandel (about $35). Its bold cabernet sauvignon also loves meat and rich side dishes. Known for its world-class merlot, Duckhorn Vineyards Napa crafts Decoy by Duckhorn cabernet, a Duckhorn red blend ($18) and a cult-following sauvignon blanc among other varietals that are easy to locate Texas-wide.
Big bash, big value.
Large volume wines are the ticket here. Easy to find La Vieille Ferme from French wine pioneers Famille Perrin in blanc or rouge magnum (1.5 liters, $12) is reliable and affordable, so buy both if those are the wines for the night.
Rosé all day with anything from soup to nuts.
New Texas winery C.L. Butaud just released a fruity 2018 rosé made from cinsault grapes that is versatile with snacks, first course soups and salads—perfect for the red wine neophyte. For something more robust, hurry and order the Bannister Russian River Valley rosé of pinot noir ($25)—its color dazzles! Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood, Texas, produces a complex dry rosé ($22) that’s great year around. Who knows? A Texas Thanksgiving or Christmas could easily mean 80-degree patio weather.
Buy the wines: Most wines available at Spec’s locations around Texas, as well as the winery websites and retailers including Houston Wine Merchant, Austin Wine Merchant, HEB, Total Wine & More and Kroger.
The Brilliant Pairing
Butternut Squash Bisque
(Yield: 6 servings)
Pair this rich fall favorite, inspired by the bisque served at La Table in Houston, with a zippy, high-acid organic Bonterra sauvignon blanc. Cheers!
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced carrots
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
3 cups vegetable stock
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Ground nutmeg to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion in the butter and oil under tender. Mix the carrots and squash into the pot.
Pour in vegetable stock, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender.
In a blender or food processor, puree the soup mixture until smooth. Return to the pot, and stir in the heavy cream. Heat through, but do not boil. Serve warm with a dash of nutmeg.
Cover photo courtesy Kelsey Knight
Robin Barr Sussman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance culinary and travel writer who studied at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, Calif. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman is a columnist for Houston Modern Luxury Magazine, Prime Living and Houston House & Home. Her work also appears in Texas Monthly, Fodor’s and Private Clubs Magazine.