When you're planning your big meal this holiday season, make sure you include wines as part of your menu. Most wouldn't serve the same wine with beef tenderloin that they would serve with turkey. A hearty, robust California Cabernet Sauvignon would overpower the turkey; a Sauvignon Blanc that would complement the turkey might get lost in all that beef. So, the following are a few suggestions of wines to pair with a variety of main courses. Just remember: When in doubt, a brut sparkling wine, from Spanish Cava to French Champagne to Italian Prosecco, will go with just about everything but dessert. And it certainly is festive. Beef tenderloin: This is the dish that's perfect for your big California Cabs and Merlots as well as a Bordeaux, a Spanish Rioja or a Chateauneuf du Pape. From Italy, a Barolo, a Barbaresco or a Brunello di Montalcino would all suffice. But there are problems:
- If you are serving this with a complex sauce, choose a wine that is less complex.
- If you are blackening the beef or using a spicy rub, then forget the Cab or any big red wine and stick with something lighter and fruitier, such as a young Shiraz or Sangiovese. A sparkling Shiraz with spice would be fine, but this wine does not appeal to all, so don't spring it on people unawares.
- If you're roasting beef, also consider a Malbec, a hearty, rustic red wine most famously made and consumed in Argentina — where the per-capita consumption of beef is one of the highest in the world.
- If you're making a sweet-sticky sauce, such as orange or sweet cherry, or using a spicy rub, then go with a sweet wine. It could be a Riesling with some sweetness or it could be a Mavrodaphne Patras, a naturally sweet red from Greece. Moscato d'Asti or Muscat Canelli, with its tinge of orange flavor, is another good match.
- If it's spicy, think Zin again.