WALLA WALLA, WA - Last month, Reporter Rex Carlin went down to Waterbrook Winery just outside of Walla Walla to get a rundown from Head Winemaker John Freeman and Executive Chef Skyeler Milgate on how to pair wines with food for Thanksgiving.
Now that we're well into the holiday season, he decided to go back and see what the Waterbrook crew thinks about pairing wines with some traditional meals, as well as one you should really consider making at home.
Today's session started with Freeman's Christmas tradition: crab.
Seafood is a popular choice in the Pacific Northwest come holiday season, and Freeman has a strong recommendation to pair with crab.
"We have crab every Christmas. It's almost sad to say but we have crab and chardonnay," said Freeman. "It's very cliché but it's so wonderful to have those two together, they pair so greatly together. It's a great tradition, so if you have crab, have chardonnay."
That doesn't just go for crab...Freeman says many types of seafood go well with chardonnay because it isn't too heavy, which is the opposite of the pairing approach to red meats.
"On shellfish and seafood, you want something a little bit leaner, something that will clean your palette," Freeman said. "On stuff with more fat, you want something that will actually trap it so you can taste it longer."
That means when it comes to a traditional rib roast, you're in the right area for choosing your wine pairing, since Cabernet, Merlot, or Bordeaux-style red blends will be your best options - varietals that many local wineries take great pride in making.
And finally, Freeman and Milgate showed us a unique, interesting dish with many flavors...and how to pair it.
Milgate introduced a confit duck and root vegetable salad, the salad consisting of parsnips, turnips, potato, rutabaga, and confit duck, which was fried in duck fat and dressed with a spicy vinaigrette.
So when we have a dish like this that's pretty complex, how do you pair a wine with something with so many ingredients, so many different flavors?
"Well, today we're going to pair it with a 2014 Estate Wine Carménère," said Freeman. "It's a very strong wine to go with a very strong dish."
No matter how simple or complex your food is this holiday season, there will always be an option or two to properly pair wine with your meal.