The Internet suggests that 82 percent of Americans eat turkey for Thanksgiving, but on Christmas ham and turkey are consumed almost equally, with beef a distant third. People also consume a variety of side dishes including bread stuffing, corn, glazed carrots, yams, creamed spinach, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy and other rich sauces.
Wine experts suggest that holiday wines should have a lively acidity and low alcohol levels so that the subtle flavors in turkey and ham are not overpowered. Fortunately, most New York wines fit these criteria. Here are some of my suggestions to try with your holiday meals this season.
New York produces both sparkling wines made from classic Champagne grapes (pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier) using the traditional French method, and less expensive sparklers made by adding carbonation to other varieties such as riesling.
- Hosmer Estate Winery Brüt Rosé, 0.5 percent residual sugar, $35 — Made from 100 percent pinot noir grapes. Clean and crisp with bright red strawberry and cherry fruit flavors.
- Ravines Wine Cellars 2007 Sparkling Brüt, $34.95 — Made from a blend of 50 percent pinot noir and 50 percent chardonnay. Flavors and aromas of toasted almonds, brioche, yeasty notes and lemon zest. Lean, clean and austere with a lively acidity.
- Billsboro Winery 2016 Mousseux, 0.22 percent residual sugar, $18 — A sparkling riesling with peach and floral notes. Dry and crisp with bright acidity.
Traditional white wines
The Finger Lakes is most famous for our rieslings, and they are well suited for pairing with turkey and ham because they have crisp acidity and at least a hint of sweetness. Our gewurztraminers also have a similar acidity and slightly sweeter profile. Unoaked Finger Lakes chardonnays are very fruit forward and oaked chardonnays have subtle oak and low alcohol levels so they go well with holiday meats.
- Anthony Road 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay, $16.99 — Made and aged in stainless steel. Crisp, clean, very forward fruit flavors of lemon and citrus, with a hint of pineapple in the aftertaste on the palate.
- Red Tail Ridge, 2016, Sans Oak Chardonnay, $13.95 — A lovely, elegant unoaked wine, with floral notes on the nose and palate of citrus and pineapple.
- Chateau LaFayette Reneau 2016 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, $16.99 — Aged in American and Hungarian oak. A powerful wine with toasty oak, buttery and vanilla aromas and flavors.
- Red Newt Cellars 2010 Sawmill Creek Gewurztraminer, 15.1 percent alcohol, $30 — A highly concentrated wine with classic flavors and aromas of lychee and rose petals. A long smooth, rich finish.
- Thirsty Owl 2016 Gewurztraminer, 0.4 percent residual sugar, $18.95 — Spicy notes of lychee and rose petals. Dry with a hint of sweetness on the palate.
- Thirsty Owl 2016 Dry Riesling, 0.5 percent residual sugar, $14.95 — Crisp, clean, bright acidity. Lemon and lime aromas and flavors.
- Anthony Road 2016 Dry Riesling, 0.7 percent residual sugar, $17.99 — Mineral and petrol aromas. Tropical fruit and honeysuckle on the finish.
The Finger Lakes also grows other white grape varieties that are not commonly paired with holiday dishes.
- Anthony Road 2016 Vignoles, 2.8 percent residual sugar, $15.99 — A French hybrid. Lovely and elegant floral and fruit aromas and flavors of peaches, pineapples and apricots. Nicely balanced and has a long finish on the palate.
- Thirsty Owl, 2015 Vidal Blanc, 0.5 percent residual sugar, $12.95 — A French hybrid. Clean and crisp with lively acidity, citrus and green apple aromas with pear flavors.
- Hosmer 2016 Gruner Veltliner, 0.4 percent residual sugar, $14 — Traditional white wine from Austria. Herbal grassy and slight green pepper aromas, with a crisp, clean finish. Pears and green apple flavors.
- Thirsty Owl 2016 Traminette, 0.8 percent residual sugar, $13.95 — A Cornell hybrid. Lychee and rose petals flavors with a spicy aroma. Semi-dry, but well balanced and a smooth finish. Very similar aromas and flavors to a gewurztraminer.
Rosé wines are not just for summer anymore and the Finger Lakes dry rosés are particularly great for pairing with holiday foods because of their relatively high levels of acidity and clean, crisp, fruit flavors.
- Red Newt Cellars 2016 Kelby James Russell Dry Rosé, 0.1 percent residual sugar, $17.50 — Made with fruit from a single cabernet franc vineyard. A rich and fruit forward nose. Red fruit flavors of raspberries and bright red cherries. Crisp and clean and relatively full bodied and rich.
- Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé, 1 percent residual sugar, $16.99 — Bright red fruit floral nose with notes of strawberry flavors.
Many people are reluctant to pair red wines with holiday dishes. This year, try some of these unusual Finger Lakes non-traditional reds.
- Damiani Wine Cellars 2013 Syrah, $25.99 — An earthy wine with plum jam flavors and aromas. Firm but pleasant tannins and finishes with a hint of black pepper.
- Red Tail Ridge NV Blaufrankisch, $22.95 — This is the Austrian name for Lemberger. A blend of 2015 and 2016 vintages. A very fruit forward wine with hints of plums and black cherries. Firm, but pleasant tannins. Finishes with a hint of black pepper.
- Standing Stone Saperavi 2015, $29.99 — The variety originated in the Republic of Georgia in the old Soviet Union. Dark red, inky color. Aged six months in Hungarian oak. Smoky, earthy aromas with flavors of plums and a hint of raspberries. Mild, supple tannins.
- Keuka Lake Vineyards 2016 Leon Millot, $28 — An old French hybrid variety made from grapes from an old vineyard. Inky, deep purple color. A smooth elegant wine with a rich feel on the palate. Black fruit and blueberries flavors and aromas.
The two Standing Stone wines are made from artificially frozen grapes, but are extremely high quality and very reasonably priced.
- Standing Stone Vidal Ice 2016, 375 ml, $24.99 — Rich finish and flavors and aromas of honey, brown sugar and caramel. A well-balanced wine with pleasant acidity.
- Standing Stone Riesling Ice 2015, 375 ml, $24.99 — Delicate floral and honeysuckle aromas and flavors. Honey notes on the palate.
After dessert and the last guests leave, take time for yourself to finish your holiday evening by sipping this elegant, rich, rye whiskey made in the old-fashioned style to bring forth the fruit and spices from the rye grain.
John Myer Rye Whiskey, 90 proof, 375ml for $30, 750ml for $45 — Like eating a fresh loaf of spicy rye bread! Spicy flavors of caramel and brown sugar.