In every home, there are certain traditions that pave our holiday path. Dishes and decor, music and moments, carefully orchestrated to conjure sentiment. When two families join, those traditions get a little trickier. Compromise or melding ensues and we choose which to hold on to and which to leave behind. We create our own vision and version of the holidays.
One way to put a twist on family traditions without emotions getting twisted is to stir up the wine pairings. You can make your holiday a little less traditional by picking something surprising. Think of it as a very safe wild streak.
If you are planning on serving a Turkey or Goose, your first thought might be to pair the meal with a Chardonnay. It is a classic white, very accessible and familiar, sure to please. Or you could go a little crazy and surprise your guests with a Rhône blend from...wait for it...Texas. How's that for wild?
The 2014 Wedding Oak Winery Terre Blanc begins with a classic blend of Marsanne, Viognier, and Roussanne. The addition of Trebbiano gives the wine a lilting acidity. The combination of grapes makes this wine versatile. With primary notes of pear and apricot, the wine moves into lemon zest, tea, and exotic spice, finishing with toasted macadamia nuts. For a more readily available Roussanne, at a great price point, look for McPherson Cellars, available at local wine stores.
Maybe you are going with a Christmas roast. You may be thinking Cabernet Sauvignon. And you would be right. And safe. How about a Tempranillo from Spain? A Malbec driven blend from Argentina? A Syrah from France or Paso Robles? Nebbiolo from Italy? Depending on the sauce or complements, you could go in several directions and no feelings will be hurt in the process. Or again, you could keep them scratching their heads when you pour a wine from just down the road in the Texas Hill Country.
Pedernales Cellars makes an elegant Tempranillo that is versatile and vibrant. Full of fruit and spice and everything nice with smooth tannins. This is found at some stores locally but if it exceeds your budget, look at Duchman Family Winery. Their wines are enjoyable, priced accessibly, and available locally. The Aglianico and Montepulciano are two favorites. The best part about these wines? If your guests love them, their tasting rooms are just a short drive west.
Traditions are valued for a reason. They are emotional touchpoints, a means in which to connect and honor our upbringings. But if we don't ever venture off the traditional path, we may never know what we are missing.
Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season full of surprises, warmth, and new traditions.