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Fabulous Food and Wine Pairing Tips for the Holiday Season

La Crema food wine pairing

These are the delicious seasonal dishes you want to serve with a great glass of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. 

With the holidays fast approaching, you're likely to be so strapped for time that you won't be able to plan a menu for your next gathering, let alone think about what wine goes well with what dish at your friend Mary's potluck. There's no need to worry because we've got you covered. Food blogger and wine enthusiast Gabriel Cabrera from Artful Desperado gives us a few perfect food and wine pairings for the season.

Before we get started, let me tell you that the whole "red wine is for beef and white is for seafood" rule is a bit outdated. When it comes to food and wine pairings, it's all about balance and flavor, so you need to mix and match accordingly based on wine style and what's in your dish.

Pairing Reds like Pinot Noir
Let's talk Pinot Noir, particularly two types: lighter-bodied and rich and plush.


A lighter Pinot Noir would be something earthy, yet fruit-forward like La Crema's Willamette Valley. It's easy to sip on and has just enough spice to tease your palate. Since we are breaking the rules a bit with this type of Pinot, you don't need to only stick with foods that are delicate and fresh, but can toy with slightly bolder dishes with spice and a moderate fat content. Here are my top picks:

Roasted Squash Stuffed Conchiglie with Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts: This dish is richly-flavored with a bit of spice and a nice buttery finish. A smooth, fruit-forward Pinot Noir with subtle earth notes is fantastic pairing since the acidity helps to balance the rich flavors and complements the earthier notes in the squash, herbs and brussels sprouts.

Pork Loin with Chutney: This is another zesty dish that pairs very well with a lighter-bodied Pinot where the mix of spice in the chutney complements the mocha notes in the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

Honey Glazed Salmon: Normally you would think white wine with fish, but because salmon is the fish with lovehandles (i.e. fat), a lighter Pinot here actually works beautifully.


Next on our list is a rich, plush Pinot Noir like La Crema's Russian River Valley. This is more full-bodied than the Willamette Pinot, so it needs an equally ballsy dish to pair. Some top picks:

Veggie Lentil Mandu: These tasty dumplings contain ginger so a Pinot with ripe fruit and nice baking spice notes from oak aging will take each bite to a whole new level. Sometimes I find red wine enhances and cools down the spicy factor in a dish, know what I mean?

Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Sage Stuffed Pork Tenderloin: Anything stuffed with cheese, cured meat and herbs has to be amazing, right? A bigger Pinot here will help cut the fat from the cheese and prosciutto, but won't overpower the protein.

Chicken and Waffles: Do we need to say more? Grab some Pinot and stuff your face!

Pairing Whites like Chardonnay
We got the reds covered now, so what about white wines? Let's keep it simple, again, and stick to two types of Chardonnay: light, crisp Chablis-style and rich, oaky, velvety Chards.

I really don't like following the rules, but with Chardonnay, you do have to be a bit more cautious. Pair it with something extremely acidic and you'll get an ulcer; eat it with hot and spicy food and you'll down it like pop.


A crisp and light Chardonnay like La Crema's Sonoma Coast is easy on the palate and is besties with delicate, simple fresh food. Here are my top pairings for this wine:

Honey Crisp Apple Pizza with Balsamic Onions: This is perfect for easy entertaining or even as an appetizer to get the party started while the main course is cooking. Both the wine and the dish have lovely levels of fruitiness and saltiness that will ease you into the evening.

White Wine Poached Shrimp, Citrus and Fennel Salad: With all the vibrant ingredients in this salad, you want a wine with a brighter acidity to match the citrus, but still has a bit of oak aging to complement the sweet shrimp.

Savory Tomato Clafoutis: This is a comfort dish and you can add a few extras to make it even more decadent, such as chorizo or shaved pecorino cheese. The rich mix of the clafoutis with the nice citrus touch of La Crema's Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is all you need to give your mouth a treat.


Next on the list: our velvety, oaky La Crema Russian River Chardonnay. This wine can be paired with richer dishes, with a touch more baking spice flavors, cream, and fall fruit like apple and pear. It's definitely a good choice to keep around for the whole dinner. Here are some fantastic pairings to consider:

One Pot Risotto: Rich, creamy risotto with the umami flavors from mushrooms make this a wonderful match for a full-bodied Chardonnay. The weight of the wine nicely matches the dish and delights the palate.

Dungeness Crab Mac and Cheese: Cheese, cream, and loads of crab. I think it's self-explanatory, right? This pairing is a great idea for a date night where you don't want to fuss around in the kitchen (or with other drinks). It's straightforward and mighty tasty.

Roasted Tomato Feta Dip: This rich pairing is ideal for a 'finger food station' at a party since both the Chardonnay and the dip have a strong flavor profile. And you won't have to worry about serving 40 different kinds of nibbles. This is also great for game night or movie night.

So there you have it. A few easy pairings to help you put together an epic gathering this holiday season. I recommend taking cues from the pairings and adjusting them to your own liking. At the end of the night, it doesn't matter if it was Chardonnay or Pinot Noir as long as you have fun and enjoy your feast.

Let us know what you think. Share your comments and questions with the team at La Crema on Facebook and Twitter.

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