A Wine and Cheese Pairing How-to for the Holidays

Santa Ynez Valley Style

The holidays are upon us which most likely means you’re at least two drafts into guest lists and menus for an upcoming festivus get-together. Here in the Santa Ynez Valley, we love a good wine and believe, as tradition tells, that there are few better things to pair it with than cheese. We’ve created a mini pairing how-to for holiday events and even threw in a few beer options to ensure you’re covered when it comes to family and friends and their spirit of choice.

A wine and cheese pairing party by Alchemy Fine Events.

A wine and cheese pairing party by Alchemy Fine Events.

A few basic wine pairing principles:

Go White
When it comes to wine and cheese pairings, people tend to think red, but truth be told, white is where it’s at. As local winery, Bridlewood Estate Winery and Laura Werline, an award-winning author and authority on cheese, share, “Compared to reds, white wines, like Chardonnay, work better with most cheeses. Most people don’t like to hear this, but I promise you, it’s true.” The lack of tannins (textural elements like grape seeds, grape skins and oak that make wine taste dry) along with white wine’s lively acidity usually make it the better choice.

If Red, Go Light or Old
Just in case you insist, No way, no how can I go through the holidays without a glass of red wine – may we suggest you look for a lighter, older one? A light, low-tannin wine like a Beaujolais is a great choice. Just make sure to pick one that has had time to age because (vino nerd-alert) tannins mellow over time.

Pair like with like
Just as when you plan a meal and pair lighter wines with lighter foods and heavier wines with heavier foods, so too, light cheeses like goat cheese, tend to pair nicely with a crisper, lighter wine. The rule also applies to beer and cheese: pair mild with mild and intense with intense.

Pair From the Same Region
When in doubt, make this your go-to trick.

Salty with Sweet
A winning combo in all fields of food, the salty taste of a blue cheese and even some washed rind cheeses beautifully balance the sweetness of dessert wines.

Rich and Creamy with Bubbles
Champagne or any sparkling wine paired with a rich, creamy cheese is a great pleasure – and that’s what the holidays are for, right?

 

A few brew & wine pairing cheat sheets:

Image via matchmywine.com

Image via matchmywine.com

Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, and the American Dairy Association (ADA) partnered to create a simple guide (originally found at BeerAdvocate.com):
Sharp Cheddar with Pale Ale
Feta with Wheat Beer
Mascarpone with Fruit Beer
American Cheese with Pilsner
Colby with Brown Ale
Gorgonzola with Barleywine
Gruyére with Bock Beer
Swiss Cheese with Octoberfest Beer
Parmesan with Amber Lager

Wisconsin Cheese has two brilliant and easy online pairing tools that allow the user to pick a wine, beer or cheese which the tools then match to a smorgasbord of pairing options: Cheese Cupid
Wisconsin Cheese Pairing Tool

 

Thanksgiving Buffets in Santa Ynez
Santa Ynez Valley Marriott loves to entertain and this Thanksgiving, we welcome you into our home. Reserve you and your family’s places at our Thanksgiving Dinner Buffet now and let the worry of feast-making to-dos disappear. Our Starting Gate restaurant will be preparing a chef-carved turkey, prime rib of beef, baked ham, poached salmon, jumbo shrimp, a pasta bar, a variety of Mediterranean and local salads and delicious desserts. Reservations are required, so please call (805) 688-1000 to reserve a table. For more information, visit us at syvmarriott.com.

SYVM-Thanksgiving-AD-ver2

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Holiday Wine Pairings in the Santa Ynez Valley

What to Serve with that Bird…

In need of some wine pairing inspiration for your Holiday Meals?  Don’t sweat it!

While many are familiar with these key elements of food and wine Holiday pairings:

  • Matching the wine selection to the protein in the meal
  •  Balancing the fruit and acidity in the wine selection, so that it holds its own with all the holiday spices in your delicious meal
  • Offering a variety: red and white, so all are sure to find something to enjoy

…the finer tuning of wine pairing can leave even the best of chefs in a quandary. Since most of us don’t have our own private oenophile super hero on call, a visit to Santa Ynez Valley’s local wineries will not only help you navigate the bountiful wine options for your Holiday meals…it will may also be just the key to slow the pace of any pre-holiday craziness that has a way of sneaking up this time of year.

With some expert guidance from Santa Ynez Valley’s incredible wine professionals, you can sip your way through the answers! Why not try a pairing for the delectable side dishes on your table or add a sparkling wine to your menu for a touch of festive charm?

There is no doubt that great wine pairings will do wonders for your holiday meals and serve as great conversation starters and inspired holiday gifts as well.  Thankfully, the vineyards of Santa Ynez produce some of California’s most exciting wines and these extraordinary local wineries are a wealth of knowledge for those needing some wine coaching. For some inspired pairing suggestions and pre-holiday fun, take a look at these local Santa Ynez Valley events:

Holiday Pairings Experience

Santa Ynez Valley Holiday Wine Pairings

Sunstone Winery in Santa Yvez Valley is offering an educational and interactive opportunity  to learn which wines will compliment your holiday menus and ask questions of the their chef and wine experts.  You will be expertly guided through a perfectly matched selection of wines and holiday bites prepared by Santa Ynez Valley’s Avant restaurant. Hosted in the Tasting Room of Sunstone Winery, Saturday November 17 at 11:30am and 1 pm, cost is  $35 per person and reservations are required. For more information or to book your reservation, please contact the Wine Club Director at Sunstone Winery.

 

 

Meet the Wine Maker at The Good Life

Santa Ynez Valley Holiday Wine Pairings

Specializing in boutique wines from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles and exclusive California Craft beer, The Good Life’s Meet the WineMaker continuing series is featuring winemaker is Doug Timewell from Toucan Wines.  Doug will be on site pouring his select Limited Production Estate wines and sharing his knowledge of wine making In the Santa Ynez Valley. Discover the relationship between wine and winemaker and the exceptional holiday wines available. Saturday, November 17, 2012, 3pm – 5pm.

 

 

 

Dessert Wine Pairings

Leave room for dessert!Desert Wine Pairings Santa Ynez Valley

Indulge in the ultimate food and wine pairing at the Wandering Dog Wine Bar in Solvang, California, the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley.

Stop by Friday, Saturday or Sunday for a new wine & food concept where tasters can sample a delicious cupcake pairing to any wine or beer flight.   Surely your own holiday feast can include a multitude of appetizer and main course pairings, but don’t forget the perfect wine to relax with at the end of your meal.  Take this sweet opportunity to delve into the dessert wine options at Santa Ynez Valley’s The Wandering Dog Wine Bar.

 

Wine Exploration

Santa Ynez Valley Marirott Wine Touring Packages

Take the time to truly explore all things wine and extend your holiday tasting experience with a stay at The Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton, California. If you opt to explore the local Santa Ynez Valley wine events on your own we offer an excellent opportunity to get the most out of your wine tasting experience.

 

 

Leave the cooking to us!

Why not dine out and join us at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott for a delicious traditional holiday feast at the Starting Gate Restaurant? Our Thanksgiving Buffet Santa Ynez Valley Marriott Thanksgiving Buffet is the perfect way to celebrate the autumn harvest without all of the stress. Make your reservation today by calling 805-688-1000.

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