uNCorked: Holiday Wine Pairings

With December comes the barrage of winter holidays: Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa to name a few. Many will tell you that one of the best things about the holiday season is the food, and of course, the best part about food is, well wine. Hanukkah latkes, Christmas ham, and Kwanzaa spicy catfish…makes my brain go into wine pairing overdrive. This holiday season I’m wondering what North Carolina wines will best complement all the great food in our celebrations.

Being somewhat new to the North Carolina wine scene holiday food pairings are a bit over my head, so, I called on some local wine experts who have tasted thousands and thousands of North Carolina wines. Through their extensive knowledge and experience with so many local wine producers I knew they’d be able to recommend some great local pairings for a few classic holiday dishes.

First, a little info about the local wine experts:

Two friends named Jessica started visiting local wineries in 2010, launched a blog about it in 2014, and by 2017 had expanded into wine education events. They have visited some 90 North Carolina wineries and recently launched a video series called “What’s in the Bag?” to celebrate North Carolina Wine month. The videos and the blog are chock full of wine information and education, all with a focus on local wine. (winemouths.com, @winemouths)

Wine Carolinas blog was started by the North Carolina-native husband and wife team, Bob and Jen, drinking their way through North and South Carolina. They have been tasting wine produced in both Carolinas for about two years, and their blog features tastings and reviews of local wineries and wine with contributions by Chef Katie Picher. They regularly highlight local holiday wines and have a section of their blog dedicated to local wine pairings. (winecarolinas.com, @winecarolinas)

You’ve already met Joe & Matt, the NC Wine Guys, in April’s uNCorked featuring Daveste Vineyards. These guys are truly ambassadors of North Carolina wine, having visited over 125 wineries, and being heavily involved in planning and events to promote local wine. Right now, they’re gearing up to host their annual wine bloggers summit–designed to help bloggers with everything from social media, to networking, to North Carolina wine knowledge. (ncwineguys.com, @ncwineguys)

Now, the food. I selected a few representative dishes from three December holidays (Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa) and asked each blogging duo to recommend local wine pairings. If you take away nothing else from the pairings listed below, just note the sheer volume and variety of North Carolina wines.

  • Wine Mouths
    • Hanukkah Potato Latkes – Surry Cellars Lot 153 (Petite Manseng)
    • Hanukkah Slow Cooked Brisket – Raylen Category 5 (Bordeaux blend)
    • Christmas Deviled Eggs – Overmountain Pinot Grigio
    • Christmas Country Ham Biscuits – Piccione Rosato
    • Kwanzaa Gumboy YaYa – Childress Riesling
    • Kwanzaa Spicy Blackened Catfish – Grove Rosé
  • Wine Carolinas
    • Hanukkah Potato Latkes – Harvest Moon Chardonnay
    • Hanukkah Slow Cooked Brisket – Biltmore Pinot Noir
    • Christmas Deviled Eggs – Piccione Pinot Grigio
    • Christmas Country Ham Biscuits – Duplin Hatteras Red (Muscadine)
    • Kwanzaa Gumboy YaYa – Hanover Park Mouvedre
      Kwanzaa Spicy Blackened Catfish – Parker Binn Rosé
  • NC Wine Guys
    • Hanukkah Potato Latkes – Biltmore Reserve Sparkling Wine
    • Hanukkah Slow Cooked Brisket – Hanover Park 1897
    • Christmas Deviled Eggs – Elkin Creek Soft White
    • Christmas Country Ham Biscuits – McRitchie Muscat Blanc
    • Kwanzaa Gumboy YaYa – Laurel Gray Shiloh (Cab Franc)
    • Kwanzaa Spicy Blackened Catfish – Cypress Bend Riverton Estate (Muscadine)

Unfortunately, I’m not up on the traditional foods of Winter Solstice, but I think the Jones von Drehle Tempranillo would complement most any dish sturdy enough to get one through the longest night of the year.

The Wine Mouths also recommended the Windsor Run Midnight Run to close out any of the holiday meals. This port style wine provides the perfect digestif to cap off a night of holiday food indulging.

And let’s not forget about the New Year. The Raylen Sparkling Brut (made in traditional champagne style) is a wonderful, dry, bubbly that will ring in 2019 with some pop.

Happy Holidays NoDa!