Whether for your own personal enjoyment or for entertaining and wowing your guests, the right beverages to accompany your holiday food can make a dinner that much more satisfying.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, there are bound to be perfect opportunities to whip up some tasty drinks to go along with your rich and savory foods. As a certified sommelier, I try to keep the wine and spirits fun and interesting!
Try starting your night off the Italian way with an aperitivo. Something that excites the appetite. For this, I turn to an orange and mandarin flavored liqueur from Italy called Aperol to make an Aperol Spritz.
The Aperol Spritz is a classic cocktail perfect for just before or at the start of dinner. Calling for only a few different drink ingredients, it can be thrown together quite easily and makes enough drinks for an entire dinner party.
“The Aperol Spritz is one of my favorite ways to start off a dinner outing,” said head bartender Brent Kawano of Vino. “Aperol gives it a little bitterness which gets your saliva going and ready for the food. It has a sort of savoriness that meshes well with savory holiday food, and the Prosecco and orange slice keep it refreshing.”
It’s typically around equal parts Aperol and Prosecco (Italy’s sparkling wine), with a splash of soda water and garnished with an orange slice. The recipe can be changed to taste if you’re looking for more or less bitter.
A bottle of Aperol might run you around $30, where a good Prosecco may run around $20, but with both of these bottles quite a few cocktails can be made.
Now that your palette is charged up and ready for food, we can switch to wine. There are many different wines that can pair with different foods, in this case I’m thinking of richer and more savory holiday foods.
One of my favorite ways to attack this kind of holiday meal is rosé wine. Rosé wines are pink wines that lie somewhere in between reds and whites. They typically aren’t as heavy as red wines yet can have nuances of both red and white wines.
Master Sommelier Chuck Furuya, an expert on food and wine pairings, considers these pink wines as palette cleansers.
“You have the turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the gravy,” Furuya said. “All of a sudden you have the cranberry sauce and when you eat that you’re ready to go back to the savory food. The rosé wines sort of act like the cranberry at the table. You wash it down after a few bites, and it gets you ready for the next bites.”
My personal go-to pink wine is labeled as My Essential Rosé, a rosé from southern France crafted by another master sommelier, Richard Betts. It can be found at a wine store and even 7/11 now, for under $20.
As the meal winds down and the body starts to turn sluggish, you need the opposite of aperitivos: digestivos. And as the name implies, these drinks are here to aid in digestion. For this difficult job, I turn to Fernet Branca.
Fernet Branca is an amaro or bitter herbal liqueur. Higher in alcohol, dark brown in color, and exceptionally herb laden, Fernet was created in the late 1800s and is the perfect way to settle your stomach.
A bottle runs about $30 but only a single ounce after dinner is necessary to put you at ease. Half an hour after I drink this and I’m almost ready to eat again.
These are the perfect drinks for your holiday dinners and the perfect way to amaze your guests. Enjoy!
by Storm Cruz, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter