Every year one of the highlights of my holiday season is gathering around the dinner table with family, friends and food. I love indulging on food that is typically not part of my everyday diet. Prime rib roast, rack of lamb, maybe even a roast goose. I'm fortunate to have good friends that invite me every year to Christmas dinner. Aside from being great hosts, they also have culinary skills that far surpass my own. All they ask of me is to bring the wine.
I usually bring a few bottles of bubbly. Nothing says "let's celebrate" like sparkling wine, but choosing a red wine for the main course can be a little more challenging. With so many dishes and tastes on the holiday table, it's difficult to pick one wine that works with everything. Here's a tip that has worked wonderfully for me with past Christmas dinners: try Nebbiolo.
Born in the mountains of Northern Italy, the Nebbiolo grape produces two of Italy's most famous wines, Barolo and Barbaresco. While these wines often have hefty price tags attached to them, that is not always the case. As long as you steer clear of the region's superstars (Bruno Giacosa, Giacomo Conterno, Angelo Gaja, etc.) you can find outstanding wines at affordable price points.
But what is it that makes Nebbiolo such a good pick for your holiday table? One of the most beautiful aspects of Nebbiolo is its scent. Good examples smell of roses, violets, herbs and red fruits. In addition, Nebbiolo has a great amount of acidity and mouth-drying tannins. Acidity and tannin might not sound good to the average wine drinker but when paired with complex, fatty foods, Nebbiolo shines.
Paul Quaglini, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @abcwinepaulq