Cheers: We three kings

Christmas and Hanukkah are right around the corner, so let us give ourselves over to food and drink.

The four classic food groups at this time of year are beef, fowl, lobster and latkes. Today we will discuss appropriate wine pairings for Nos. 1-3. We do not actually have a suggested wine pairing for latkes as we like them with applesauce.

If you are having beef (we usually have a rib roast, but it’s looking like Beef Wellington this year), you want a nice, beefy red. Assuming you have impoverished yourself with last-minute gift-buying, you may want a nice, beefy, cheap red.

Look no further than 19 Crimes Red Wine Blend. Eight bucks! It comes from Australia where, in less-enlightened times, English men and women were sent if they committed any of the 19 crimes listed in the “Be Mean to Poor People” compendium every English judge had on his bench.

Though lacking an apparent criminal element, 19 Crimes is powerful and flavorful, if indelicate. Ruby red and full-bodied, it’s all blackberries and black currants. The blend — mostly Shiraz with some Grenache — handsomely complements any cut or creation involving beef and would do more than justice to grilled rhino.

If you’re having turkey, duck, goose or capon, you may wish to wash it down with something lighter, a varietal that won’t dominate the palate. Behold Prophecy Pinot Noir from California. Nine bucks! It’s as slender and supple as a ballerina. You’ll detect the toasted oak and ripe raspberry bouquet. Then you hit the lush layers: raspberry and cheery. Restrained and cultivated. A total treat.

Whether we have lobster on Christmas Eve is a work in progress. We championed the idea, but the marital unit is unconvinced and at least one of guests is anti-crustacean. Maybe salmon?

Anyway, if you support the seafood industry on Dec. 24, you ought to give sober consideration to a crisp, chilled white. Have a chardonnay if you insist, but avoid the buttery ones. We’d go for either a sauvignon blanc or (see photo) a Sancerre. Known as “Wine’s Tom Hanks” (because everyone likes it), Sancerre comes from France. It’s an exceptionally refreshing wine with more acidity than most chardonnays. Its pear-melon freshness stands up handsomely to poached salmon or — if we prevail — lobster.

Like lobster, Sancerre can be pricy. This one normally goes for about $15, which won’t kill you. Ha, ha: we found ours at the 3-for-$10 damaged-label sale at Friend & Family … but those don’t happen often enough to maintain a habit. That’s probably what makes it so special.

Merry Christmas!

Stephen Fay

Stephen Fay

Managing Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Fay, managing editor of The Ellsworth American since 1996, is a third-generation Californian. Starting out as a news reporter in 1974, he has been an editor since 1976, working in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont before settling in Ellsworth with his wife and two daughters. [email protected]
Stephen Fay

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