Pairing wine with food can be challenging—especially on New Year’s Eve when champagne reigns supreme and dishes like green leafy vegetables and pickled herring cover dining room tables. Not exactly the most wine-friendly dishes. That’s why we called in three expert sommeliers—Matthew Pridgen from Underbelly (Houston), Steven Grubbs from Empire State South and Five & Ten (Georgia) and Carlton McCoy from The Little Nell (Aspen)—to help us pick the perfect wines for the most common (lucky) NYE foods. The results may surprise you—only twice did anyone agree, proving the age old adage that the best wine is the one you like to drink. Bottoms up!

 

Hoppin’ John: Furmint, Pinot Grigio or Syrah

 

  • Pridgen’s Pick: Furmint, Kovács Nimród Nagy-Eged (2011): “This wine carries richness and weight due to some Botrytized grapes [meaning grapes with fungus] and oak aging, making it a perfect partner to a bowl of peas cooked down with a smoked ham hock.”
  • Grubbs’ Pick: Pinot Grigio, Russiz Superiore Collio (2012): Pinot Grigio from the Collio typically has a particular sturdiness to match the starchy peas and a woodsy spice note to go with any pepper that should be in the prep.”
  • McCoy’s Pick: Syrah, Marcel Juge Cornas (1999): “Juge is rarely seen in the U.S., but it’s not very expensive and it’s 100% Syrah. With a very, rustic earthy dish like this, the wine complements that. Smoked meat also goes well with a smoky, meaty syrah.”

 

Asian Long Noodles: Rice Wine, Riesling or Sheurebe

 

  • Pridgen’s Pick: Rice Wine, Pagoda Shàoxīng jiǔ (Non-Vintage): “This 10-year-old rice wine is full of umami, mushroom and beef stock; a natural pairing for noodles with similar ingredients.”
  • Grubbs’ Pick: Riesling, Rebholz Estate Dry (2012):  “The limey fruit, high acidity and floral aromatics complement a lot of standard Asian ingredients, and the texture on this wine isn't too hard-edged for a dry Riesling, which makes it pretty versatile.”
  • McCoy’s Pick: Scheurebe, Theo Minges (2012): “Scheurebe is the more approachable cousin of Riesling. This wine is austere, super limey, really floral but not as acidic as Riesling, which can be a little intense for some people. Asian flavor profiles go really well with citrus notes of scheurebe.”  

 

Pomegranate: Rosé, Txakolina Bizkaiko or Beaujolais

 

  • Pridgen’s Pick: Rosé, Teutonic "Laurel Vineyard" Chehalem Mountains Rosé of Pinot Noir (2013): "A joy to drink on its own, this wine pairs effortlessly with fresh red fruits due to its vibrant personality and low alcohol."
  • Grubbs’ Pick: Txakolina Bizkaiko, Uriondo (2013): “Pairing actual fruits with wine is always a challenge and the solution is to find something that matches the fruit's level of acidity, sweetness and dryness. This Uriondo wine will add an interesting effervescence to help match the subtle texture of the pomegranate.”
  • McCoy’s Pick: 2010 Julien Sunier Morgon Gamay Beaujolais: "Have to have a wine with red fruit driven character, not black fruit. Beaujolais comes to mind—wines only here in the last 5 years, high tone, chalky tannins, but also fresh and vibrant like a pomegranate."

 

 

Green Leafy Vegetables: Albarino or Gruner Veltliner

 

 

 

Pickled Herring: Rosé, Muscadet or Riesling

 

  • Pridgen’s Pick: Rezabal Txakoli, Getariako Txakolina (2013): “This is a rosé with a delicate spritz, spice and saltiness that begs for food like pickled herring and its accoutrements.”
  • Grubbs’ Pick: Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Michel Delhommeau 'Clos Armand' (2012): “Muscadet is a total champ when it comes to difficult foods. Delhommeau's version is fuller than most, so it can handle the richness of the fish as its natural acid structure deals with the pickling vinegar, which would derail most lesser wines.”
  • McCoy’s Pick: Riesling, Robert Weil Keidreich Graffenberg Spatlese (2010): “Traditional Scandinavian herring is sweet and sour, so a nice, dense, very ripe Riesling would be phenomenal. This is my favorite Riesling in Germany—it’s very sweet, unctuous, very rich, but not like a sauternes, it’s nice and off-dry, with a flavor that will stand up to herring.”

 

 

Doughnuts: Mead, Moscato d’Asti or Tokaji

 

  • Pridgen’s Pick: Moonlight Meadery’s “Sensual” Londonderry: “I’ve never thought of pairing wine with doughnuts, but I can’t imagine the layered floral and honey notes of this mead wouldn’t be a joy to drink with a big box of doughnuts as the dawn breaks.”
  • Grubbs’ Pick: Moscato d'Asti, Cascinetta Vietti (2013): “If it's a cakey, powdery and fruity doughnut, then the lightly sweet fizz of Moscato is a good match of texture and sugar.”
  • McCoy’s Pick: Royal Tokaji Company Essencia (2003): “With a glazed doughnut, I’d like something that has big, luscious texture. This is the national wine of Hungary, and these people taught the French how to make sauternes. What’s unique about this wine is its high acid and high sugar as well, which makes it a great food wine. Dessert wines can be too cloying, but the acid balances it out perfectly.”

 

Whole Fish: White Blend or Chablis

 

  • Pridgen’s Pick: Domaine de la Laidiere “L’insolite Blanc” Bandol (1999): “My love for this wine knows no bounds, and with whole fish, whether roasted or fried, it’s deep and layered minerality really shines.”
  • Grubbs’ Pick: Chablis, Laurent Tribut (2012): “Since whole fish is usually a fairly simple preparation—roasting with herbs and lemon—you don't need to worry about matching heavy starch components or other complications. Tribut is clean enough to not overwhelm trout or flounder but has rich, succulent notes to handle richer bass or snapper, too.”
  • McCoy’s Pick: Chablis, Patrick Piuze Les Clos (2010): “Classic fish with herbs and lemons goes great with Chablis, but not a light, everyday wine or a rich chardonnay; a nice Grand Cru. This wine has very approachable prices, great intensity, depth and complexity, a nice acidity.”

 

 

Roasted Pork Loin: Nerello Mascalese Blend, Riesling or Chateauneuf du Pape

 

  • Pridgen’s Pick: Nerello Mascalese Blend, Terre Nere Etna Rosso  (2011): “This wine could easily pass off as Grand Cru Burgundy, and as such, is a natural with pork in ways that have to be tasted to be believed.”
  • Grubbs’ Pick: Riesling, Merkelbach Erdener Treppchen (2012): “Riesling in any form is almost always a better pairing for roasted pork than any other wine you come up with. Think of it as pork chops and apple sauce.”
  • McCoy’s Pick: Chateauneuf du Pape, Clos des Papes Grenache Blend (1998): “I imagine pork with cranberry sauce and spices, so here I went with a Grenache-based blend that doesn’t use much oak and no new barrels, so it’s a very fruit driven wine that’s not highly acidic. The flavor profile will go perfectly with the pork.”