Throughout the holiday season, families and friends gather indoors to keep warm, connect with kindred spirits and of course, indulge in newfound delights. It is the season for enjoying extravagant dinner parties, family meals, and more often than not this will include a quality bottle of wine or two at the dinner table.
“The holidays are a perfect time to uncork something special,” says Fiona Buchan, Director of Marketing at Lakeview Wine Co., a division of Diamond Estates Wine and Spirits. “But rather than simply drinking a bottle of wine on its own, cooking with wine is also a fantastic way to enhance the flavours of your holiday meals this season.“
Whether choosing to cook with a red or white, selecting vintages that complement ingredients in a recipe is key for creating a perfectly balanced and memorable meal.
Fiona offers some simple tips on what to consider when choosing just the right wine for your holiday feast:
- Red or white? When cooking with wine, it is important to consider whether the recipe would best be enhanced by a red or white wine. White wines have a bright acidity and subtle sweetness that typically complement fresh seafood, poultry and velvety cream sauces. A robust red wine tends to possess complex notes that work well with rich beef, duck and game recipes. Depending on the dish, pork can pair equally with red and white wines.
- Quality. A simple rule of thumb – do not cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink. The quality of the wine can easily make or break your dish. When cooking with wine, it is best to use a fresh uncorked bottle, or decanted labels preserved for no more than four to five days. Wine infused into a recipe does not need to be expensive, but it should be drinkable and palatable. Rather than sticking to basic fortified cooking wines, the best dishes are created with wines you like to drink.
- Tannins. A naturally occurring compound present within the skins and seeds of grapes, tannins give wine an inherent dryness or astringency. Tannic wines are often beneficial additions to holiday recipes because they can help to tenderize meats and provide depth of flavor. Because dry wines can alter the proteins within poultry, it is not recommended for turkey marinades. Dry red wines are best incorporated into sauces, reductions and beef stews. Dry white wines are best suited for creating cream sauces and for deglazing pans, which can lead to a dynamite holiday gravy.
- Acidity. Both red and white wines possess levels of acidity which can enliven the palate. White wines such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Unoaked Chardonnay possess balanced levels of acidity that provide ample flavor to everything from stuffing to scalloped potatoes. Medium bodied red wines are great additions to cranberry sauces, chutneys and chocolate desserts. Wines with high levels of acidity also lend themselves nicely to glazes, sauces and syrups.
- Sweetness. Taking into consideration the sweetness of a wine is crucial when it comes to developing the perfect dessert. Though mildly-sweet wines can work well with savory dishes, the sugars in sweeter blends caramelize quickly when exposed to direct heat and can lead to a burnt mess. Sweet white wines such as Riesling and Moscato are excellent for poached pears, fruit tarts and dessert sauces. Sweet red wines such as Ruby Port are great when added into chocolate sauces, chocolate cakes and warm fruit reductions.
“Regardless of which wine you choose to cook with, wine is guaranteed to make a great addition to your meals for an added level of complexity and character to traditional holiday recipes,” adds Fiona. “It provides pops of acidity and nuanced depth to sauces, syrups and stews that helps take many dishes over the edge.”
Eat, drink and be merry! Make your holiday feast this season one to remember by adding accents of wine, and don’t forget to save a little to finish off your Christmas festivities with a grand toast and cheers. But please be safe and if you plan to have a few drinks, arrange a safe ride home – do not drink and drive.
For more information, please visit lakeviewwineco.com. Stay engaged on Facebook at /LakeviewWineCo, follow it on Twitter @LakeviewWineCo and on Instagram @lakeviewwineco.
About Lakeview Wine Co.:
A division of Diamond Estates Wines and Spirits Inc., Lakeview Wine Co. is found in the heart of Canada’s premier wine country, Niagara-on-the-Lake. At its state-of-the-art winemaking facility, Lakeview crafts several Ontario VQA wine brands from specially chosen and carefully managed vineyards from more than 25 grape grower partners in the Niagara Peninsula, including Lakeview Cellars, Fresh, EastDell Estates, 20 Bees and the unique McMichael Collection that pays homage to Canada’s famed Group of Seven artists. The Lakeview Wine Co. wine boutique is open daily all year, featuring a selection from each of its brands at the tasting bar. Also available year round is the unique Cellar Floor Experience, a tasting a tour of a 1,000-square-foot space in the heart of the winery where you will sip VQA wines amongst two-storey wine tanks and an ocean of more than 800 wine barrels.