10 festive drink pairing ideas
To add an extra dose of magic to your mealtime experience this season, we have enlisted the help of Lindsay Trivers from The Tasting Class to offer her take on the perfect festive drink pairing ideas for our seasonal recipes. Whether it’s flavour-packed regional wines or mulled, alcohol-free alternatives that you’re interested in, learn how to elevate your next festive dish with Lindsay’s expert tips and tricks.
Pomegranate Salmon with Cauliflower Puree and Green Beans
Though not a traditional festive dish, this pretty plate is a great midweek meal amidst the heavy parties and indulgent dinners that are so common at this time of year.
“For this dish, I’d recommend a red Burgundy which is made from Pinot Noir grapes. This is one of the lighter and more delicate reds, which works really well with a richer seafood dish, such as salmon. It has red fruit characters which taste a little like pomegranate and help to accentuate the fruit in the dish, while also being bright, refreshing and acidic to cut through the salmon and the creamy puree, without overpowering the flavours.
“For an alcohol-free festive drink pairing, I’d suggest a pomegranate mocktail to highlight the fruit in the dish. This would work well with the dish’s sour, tangy character and act as a beautiful palate cleanser from the salmon and cauliflower puree. For this, you could use 60ml pomegranate juice, 30ml orange juice, a squeeze or 15ml of lime juice and 60ml of sparkling water. Build over ice in a glass and garnish with a slice of lime, and any leftover pomegranate seeds.”
9oz Fillet of Beef with Truffle Butter and Roast Potatoes
Nothing says indulgence like steak and truffle, so this is the perfect dish for impressing friends with this season. We know what we’ll be cooking on New Year’s Eve!
“Look out for an Italian Nebbiolo to pair with this dish – a Barolo or Barbaresco would be great choices if you’re looking to treat yourself. Alternatively, try a Langhe Rosso. Nebbiolo is a special grape that ages really well, and during this time it takes on mushroom notes which have a likeness to truffle. Structurally, it has quite high tannins which are exquisite with juicy steaks because they help cleanse the fat from your mouth and reset your palate, so that something as rich as a steak goes down very easily.
“As an alcohol-free alternative, I’d recommend a non-alcoholic red wine. When you have such bold, earthy flavours in a dish – particularly from ingredients such as truffle, it’s important to match it with a drink that also has those earthy characters. Non-alcoholic red wine still has those tannins that cleanse our palate, which is why it will match the richness of the steak and the bold flavours in the truffle nicely. You can buy non-alcoholic wines at drinkdrystore.com.”
Cheesy Cauliflower and Mushroom Bake with Festive Side Salad
Cauliflower cheese is a Christmas classic! We’ve taken ours up a notch by adding chestnut mushrooms, mature cheddar cheese and a festive side salad.
“This dish lends itself to a splash of sparkles, so it’s a great opportunity to get that bottle of champagne out! Alternatively, try a sparkling wine from South Africa – it has similar aromas to champagne, and has cleansing bubbles from the carbonation which cut through the weight of the cheese and creamier elements of the dish. Both champagne and South African sparkling wines go through an aging process where they are aged with yeast which is leftover from the fermenting process, and this adds a cheesy, toasty character to the wine.
“A sparkling, non-alcoholic cider would also work really well with this dish. Again, it offers the carbonation to cut through the creaminess, while still being light and refreshing to complement the salad. Apple also works well with cheese rather than fighting against it.”
Pan-fried Chicken with Festive Red Cabbage, Roast Potatoes and Gravy
Our festive red cabbage is the star of this dish and it’s packed with comforting winter spices.
“This dish has multiple flavour carriers, many of which are quite sweet. With this in mind, I’d recommend pairing it with a Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Ideally, we want a Chenin Blanc that has spent time in oak barrels. Look for clues on the bottle as to how the wine was made, or look for flavour descriptions that feature smoke, toast and spice. The reason for this pairing is to complement the spices we’re using in the sauce for the chicken. Chenin Blanc is also quite acidic, which means it’s great for cutting through the creaminess in this dish.
“For a non-alcoholic alternative, give this mulled mocktail a try (a batch should see you through the festive season!) Add 500ml of cranberry juice, 500ml of red grape juice and 250ml water to your slow cooker or large pot on the stove, then add a cinnamon stick, 3 star anise, 10 cloves and 1 sliced lemon and orange. Heat up slowly for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to sit for 15 minutes further. Remove the fruit and spices before serving, then adjust the sweetness to your taste using agave syrup or sugar.”
Festive Goats Cheese and Red Onion Pizza with Pine Nuts
When it comes to perfect pairings, it doesn’t get much better than goat cheese and red onion. This is not one to miss!
“Sauvignon Blanc is a classic pairing with goat’s cheese. The thyme on the pizza also means we’d like something with a slightly early flavour, so I’d recommend something from the Loire Valley. This is also a region where we see a high concentration of premium goat cheese being made, so it’s a perfect example of what grows together, goes together! It doesn’t always say on the bottle if a wine is from the Loire Valley, so look out for Sancerre, Touraine or Pouilly-Fumé.
“For a refreshing non-alcoholic alternative, I’d recommend this Spring Thyme Lemonade. First, make a sugar syrup using one cup of sugar to one cup of water, and heat in a pan with a few sprigs of thyme until the sugar is dissolved. Then, remove from the heat and leave at room temperature to cool (remove the thyme at this stage, too). Over ice, add 1 ½ cups of lemon juice in with 5 cups of water and then pour in the sugar syrup until it’s at your desired sweetness. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.”
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