Challenging Wine Pairing: Christmas in July

By LaGayle ~ July 13th, 2010.

People so often eat certain meals only on very special occasions. In our family the main entrée of our traditional Christmas dinner is chicken and dressing. Not wanting to wait until December to eat it again, I thought it would be fun to have a Christmas in July dinner for this month’s challenging wine pairing.

I thoroughly enjoyed preparing this meal at the midpoint of the year and giving us the opportunity to start looking ahead to Christmas. On a side note, our dressing is usually a cornbread dressing; however, I have started making it with rice flour muffins rather than cornbread because we try, when possible, to eat gluten-free. It is amazing that the texture and taste is identical to that of cornbread. I rounded out the menu with an apple walnut salad, seasoned green beans, a spicy jalapeno cranberry relish, and pecan tarts with whipped topping and garnished with shaved chocolate for dessert.

Once the menu was in place, it was time to determine the wines to pair with the meal. I, again, referred to What to Drink with What You Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page to decide what to serve. White wine is frequently paired with chicken; however, certain red wines are also acceptable. The two varietals chosen to pair with our Christmas in July dinner were Chardonnay (domestic) and Pinot Noir (red Burgundy from France).

For this challenge, I selected the 2008 Phelps Creek Celilo Vineyard Chardonnay and the 2007 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin. Phelps Creek is located in Oregon but the fruit for this Chardonnay is sourced from Celilo Vineyard in Washington State. The Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin is a classic red Burgundy made from the Pinot Noir grape. While we enjoyed both wines, we all thought that the Chardonnay was superb, with and without food. It was a marvelous pairing, and we’ll certainly be picking up another bottle of the Phelps Creek Chardonnay to have with this meal come Christmastime. And, best of all, both wines received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

As always, I encourage you to try your own challenging pairings at home. Also, we welcome your suggestions for challenging wine pairing meals for us to try in the future.

Bon Appétit!

2008 Phelps Creek Celilo Vineyard Chardonnay (Celilo Vineyard, Columbia Gorge, Washington): Medium yellow in color. Very aromatic and refreshing with grass and green apples on the nose. Citrus, apples, and orange peel come through on the palate. Dry, medium-bodied and crisp with a very long finish. Well-balanced with good complexity. Possibly the best Chardonnay we’ve had.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery $24; Available elsewhere, $24

2007 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin (Gevrey-Chambertin, Cotes de Nuits, Burgundy, France): Grape: Pinot Noir. Medium ruby red. Aromas of earth and oak lead to flavors of cherry and earth. Dry and medium-bodied with lively acidity, drying tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: QFC (Seattle, Washington), $42.99; Available elsewhere, $36 to $55

Filed under: American Wine, Challenging Wine Pairing, Chardonnay, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Food & Wine, French Wine, Oregon Wine, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Jenny | July 15th, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Thanks for the tip on the book. I can’t wait to start reading it.

  2. Kori | July 15th, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    It is a wonderful book. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do. I had the pleasure to meet the authors earlier this week at an event. Great people. Cheers!