Wines For Holiday Meals

‘e’ wine of the week

By Bruce Cochran

Hello Everyone,

This month we’ll look at holiday menus and wines that match, searching for ideas and inspiration. We’ll begin this week with the first course, ending the month with dessert, with a lot of good food and wine in between.

Try a new wine this week!


Pitars Pinot Grigio

Depending upon the number of courses, the first thing you serve your guests at this year’s holiday meals might be called appetizers, hors d’hoeuvres, amuse bouche or something else. But whatever you call it, it will likely be accompanied by wine.

I like to begin a meal with a soup, and with an extensive holiday menu I usually prefer a clear soup, since we’ll have a long way to go before dessert. By clear soup, I mean broth-based as opposed to something cream-based like a bisque — though I’d never turn down a good bisque.

With most menus, it’s usually a good idea to begin with lighter dishes, reach a crescendo with the main course, perhaps a brief pause after that with a cheese course, maybe a salad if it’s a French menu (they traditionally serve salads after the main course) and finally dessert.

Since winter menus often feature beef, veal or some other red-wine-friendly main course, earlier courses might feature seafood or some other white-wine-friendly recipe. If the menu has several courses, it can provide a good opportunity to move from a lighter white wine to a heavier, oakier one — perhaps with a soup followed by a richly-sauced seafood dish.

Now, at Chez Cochran I usually greet guests at the door with a glass of very dry sparkling wine, preferably French champagne. Maybe that’s one reason I don’t entertain often, aside from having a dog that thinks he’s a person. And while I can easily sip champagne throughout an entire meal, we do need at least one red wine at some point, and nothing clears the palate like a crisp white wine.

A good, all-purpose white wine for amuse bouche, appetizers, appetitti or a good old-fashioned apéritif is an Italian pinot grigio. I’d make sure that it’s from the cool northern part of the country, the regions of Trentino/Alto Adige, Veneto (Venezie) or Friuli.

One that I found last year in Friuli is Pitars Pinot Grigio, made for generations by the Pittaro family. It retails for $11.99 to $12.99 a bottle.

Categories: Legacy Archive