Our most recent blog post explored the traditional food and drinks that are enjoyed in France for Christmas. Not prepared to indulge in a 6-hour long feast this year, or not so sure about trying your hand at typical French dishes like escargot this holiday season? Then keep reading because our experts at somMailier have great recommendations for pairing French wine with American traditions when it comes to food!
While Christmas feast traditions tend to vary from region to region and home to home in the United States, we have rounded up some of the most popular dishes to provide our recommendations for pairing French wine with American traditions.
Before you read any further, we must warn you that you might get a little bit hungry and thirsty while reading this post. We recommend curling up next to your Christmas tree with a glass of wine from your latest somMailier Wine Club shipment, and maybe a snack before you go any further!
Pairing French Wine with American Appetizers
To begin with, many American families choose to nibble on appetizers before their Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day meal. While the French prefer to enjoy their cheese course towards the end of their feasts, in the U.S. it is more common to snack on cheese as an appetizer. Champagne is perfect alone as an aperitif or paired with creamier cheeses. This makes it a fantastic pairing for cranberry and brie bites or pastries that are becoming increasingly popular. Chardonnay or Côteaux Bourguignon also make excellent pairings for this creamy and tart appetizer.
A Focus on Side Dishes
Next, although main dishes tend to get the spotlight in wine pairings, side dishes are often people’s favorite part of special holiday meals. Green beans, potatoes in various forms, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, Brussels sprouts, and other greens cover dinner tables throughout homes across America on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
If you are planning on filling up your plate with a specific side and are not big on the main dish, you can think about focusing your wine pairing on that specific side. In general, dry whites and dry reds tend to pair well with most of the typical American side dishes.
So, if green beans, Brussels sprouts, or other vegetable dishes are your go-to this holiday season, you can’t go wrong with a dry, fresh white like the always popular La Fleur des Pins white from Graves.
If you are in love with the cheesy goodness of macaroni and cheese, try a delicious Provençal red like the Via Caritatis Lux in Domino Red.
Additionally, mashed potatoes, potatoes au gratin, and sweet potato casserole taste fantastic with the Château Bonnange, a well-balanced yet intense red from Burgundy.
The Main Event
The main dish of an American Christmas dinner is definitely something that can vary from family to family.
First, like the French, many Americans opt for a roast turkey, goose, or duck. The Chateauneuf du Pape Roque Colombe that you might have tried in our Thanksgiving wine package is undeniably delicious with these traditional roasted birds. Of course, a nice Burgundy like the Domaine Pierre Laurent is another fine choice if this is your main entrée.
If you usually prepare a delectable Christmas ham, try pairing it with a silky red like the Château de Portets Grand Vin.
On the East Coast, shellfish is a popular main dish during the holiday season. Pair lobster and crab with Champagne or a fresh, fruity white like the Domaine Petroni or the La Fleur des Pins white.
For Italian-American families, lasagna or another pasta dish is often the centerpiece of the Christmas meal. Skip the Chianti and instead try the Château Bonnange.
Traditional beef dishes like a roast or prime rib pair very well with a number of our Bordeaux wines. For example, you can’t go wrong with the Château de Portets or Château Haut-Calens with this main dish. The Les Terrasses de Saint Christophe 2017 from Saint Emilion is dry, powerful, and spicy with a long finish. It pairs well beef dishes and would also be great with lamb or mushroom dishes.
A refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, like the La Fleur des Pins white, pairs well with fish for the holidays. If you prefer red, we recommend the Fleurie Domaine Montangeron 2018. This bright, floral, fruit-forward red is ideal for pairing with seared fish, like tuna and salmon. It will also go well with creamy cheese like brie or camembert if you plan on eating that earlier in the evening.
Finally, we would be remiss to write a blog about pairing French wine with American traditions for the holidays without mentioning the infamous fruitcake, or gâteau aux fruits.
Britain is commonly credited as the origin of this controversial cake, but the earliest recipes can actually be traced back to ancient Rome. Fruitcake recipes spread across Europe and eventually made their way to the United States. In 1913, mail-order fruitcakes began in the United States. Soon, fruitcakes became mass-produced. Traditionally, this dessert is soaked in liqueurs or brandy, which helps to prevent mold. Like wine, some say fruitcake improves with age. In fact, in 2017, a fruitcake was found in Antarctica that was 106 years old and was described as “almost edible”.
Many might say that this dense, sweet dessert pairs best with the garbage bin; however, others love this traditional Christmas dessert. In the case that you are a fruitcake lover, try pairing it with the sweet, slightly acidic dessert wine L’Ilot de Haut Bergeron.
On the other hand, you can just skip the fruitcake and just sip on a glass of that delicious dessert wine or enjoy a glass of bubbly.
Pairing French Wines with American Traditions in 2020
With 2020 being a year unlike any other, many of us will not have the chance to share our traditional holiday meals with family and friends in the same way as we have done in the past. You’re not alone in this. Last month, 25% of Americans reported that they would be cooking their Thanksgiving meal for the very first time this year. But don’t worry, pairing French wine with American traditions means you can still enjoy a nice bottle of wine even if you are not planning on cooking any sort of elaborate meal – French, American, or otherwise.
Ordering pizza in? Then pop open a bottle of Château Haut-Calens. This red from somMailier founder Laurent’s cousin not only pairs well with pizza but will make it taste even better.
Chinese take-out? Uncork a light red Brouilly Saint Lager or a dry Riesling like the Cuvee Engelgarden.
Planning a holiday meal is difficult work, but somMailier makes ordering amazing wine easy so that you don’t have to compromise on that.
The Spirit of Christmas; The Spirit of Giving
However different our holiday plans may be this year, a fantastic bottle of French wine will always pair well with the twinkle of Christmas lights. If you decide to try some of our recommendations for amazing somMailier French wine with American traditions, tag us on Instagram: @sommailierwineclub. With somMailier’s effortless delivery, you can join our club and have wine shipped to your front door quarterly or re-order some of your favorites, including the ones mentioned above. Also, you even gift wine to a loved one! Then, no matter how many miles apart you may be, you can say “Santé et Joyeux Noël” over Zoom while enjoying the same wine.
From the team at Sommailier we’d like to wish you a very merry Christmas and a wonderful start to the New Year! Want to learn more about French wine? We’re here to help! Why not check out our French wine club? Every three months we send direct to your door three or six bottles of boutique French wines which have been carefully selected by wine experts in France along with detailed information about each wine and food pairing ideas to help you really discover French wine. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also have a wine club gift option for that special wine lover in your life!