Your mom is making both a turkey and a ham. Your aunt is bringing her special Brussels sprouts. Your brother is all about his curried quinoa pilaf this year. And don’t forget the sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. Holiday meals are all about tradition and deep rooted side dish preferences. Which are great until you start trying to pick a wine. All the flavors on the table don’t even complement each other, let alone a good Burgundy. The holidays are the one time of year that it’s best to stop wondering what wine pairs best and just think about what will be nice to drink. Unless you celebrate the holidays with your family of sommeliers, the holidays are not the time to break out your best and rarest bottles.
It’s a little bit of a cliche, but for the holidays consider going nouveau. Vins Nouveaux are harvest wines, released a few scant weeks after the grapes are harvested. These young wines are as fruity and bright as red wines get. This lightness makes them food-friendly and as likely to appeal — or at least not offend — everyone, from your Aunt Polly who makes her own rose by mixing the leftovers of the white and red wines, to your terroir loving cousin.
The most famous of the Nouveau wines is of course Beaujolais Nouveau. Released on the third Thursday each November, to worldwide fanfare, the wines are said to be an indicator of the vintage to come. According to Frank DuBouef, responsible for much of the beaujolais Nouveau that floods the US each November, “The 2011 is a dazzling, wonderful, fascinating vintage. Its first quality is its vivid colour. The Beaujolais wines have a sparkling, deep sustained purplish colour. The aromas are very floral and fruity, and the wine is fleshy with good volume, a fine silky harmonious texture and a full bodied, ripe maturity.” At under $10 a bottle at this time of year, Nouveaus are also a pocket friendly way to celebrate.
The success of nouveau has also meant that other countries and regions are now creating their own vins nouveaux, including vino primero from Spain, nouveau Syrah from France, vino novello from Italy, and Gamay nouveau from Canada. And don’t forget to look local, many U.S. vineyards are getting into the nouveau game with their harvest wines, like The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in Colorado, where the wildly popular Wild Cañon Harvest wine is made from grapes sourced from winegrowers throughout the community, including the local Boy Scout troup.