Originally created 12/05/01

A good wine makes holiday meal special



Here are my recommendations for wines that go well with holiday entrees:

Roast beef:

The king of beef has but one wine, Argentina Malbec. This red grape was originally a blending component for Bordeaux, but was destroyed by disease. It was replanted in South America and now thrives. Generally it has deep, dark fruit flavors with a slight earthy edge. It really brings out all the great flavors of beef.

My favorite: Tapiz Malbec, $8.

Venison:

The first wine that comes to mind as a pair for this great gamey-flavored meat is Bordeaux. The deep, blended flavors that arise out of almost every bottle make it an excellent match. There are many levels of quality, and it is best to discuss your flavor preferences with a trusted wine-store expert.

My favorite: Chateau Greysac Medoc Bordeaux, $18.

Turkey:

I feel that the handsdown best wine with turkey is Alsace Gewurztraminer. Now, the first major hurdle is the name (guh-VURTS-truh-mee-nuhr), which means spicy grape. These white wines have excellent fall-spice aromas and deep, layered fruit flavors. They bring out all the excellent flavors in your holiday feast.

My favorite: Hugel from France $17 or Edmeades from California $16.

Ham:

For this is menu item, you could serve a white or a red. California is producing some aromatic Rieslings that will balance the saltiness in the ham. Aromas of honeysuckle and pear are most prevalent, with a great slightly sweet balance that matches perfectly with almost any preparation of the ham. When considering a red wine as an accompaniment, one of the best is the Beaujolais Nouveau. It is light, fresh and full of berry flavors that pair beautifully.

My favorite white: Kendall-Jackson Johannisberg Riesling $10.50

My favorite red: Georges Dubouf Beaujolais Nouveau $10.50

Lamb:

Whenever I think of the holidays, slow-roasted leg of lamb with rosemary and lemon always come to mind and make my mouth water. This menu item needs a big red wine, but one that is not so rough and tannic that it overpowers the delicate undertones in the lamb. Merlot accomplishes this well. With big, dark berry aromas and a soft and smooth flavor, it almost seduces the taste buds.

My favorite: Canoe Ridge Merlot from Washington State, $25.

It's hard to find a wine that caters to all of your guests' palates. I hope these suggestions help you choose wines that satisfy your menu needs and those finicky taste buds.

Cheers!

Wine columnist Lain Bradford can be reached at lainb@bellsouth.net or write him in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom, PO Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903.,