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The Best Food and Drink Pairings to Make Your Holiday Meal Pop

Photo by Adobe Stock | Alleko

Hudson Valley experts sound off on which drinks to pair with everything from roast duck and beef filet to a Feast of the Seven Fishes spread.

Take the guesswork out of what drinks pair best with holiday entrees by following the smart advice from these beverage pros: Christopher Basso, co-owner and brewmaster at Newburgh Brewing Company; Michael Albin, owner and wine consultant at Hudson Wine Merchants; Tim Guy, beverage director and sommelier at Dutch’s Spirits; and Nick Iacovitti, manager at Hudson Valley Wine Market.

Roast Duck

Roasted Duck

Photo by Adobe Stock | Alleko

The richness of roasted, crispy-skin duck pairs beautifully with a Kir Royale made with currant cassis, according to Michael. Another option: A bracing, sparkling rose like a Veuve Ambal Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé, says Tim. “It has a bright minerality that is underscored by juicy fruitiness that acts as a counterpoint to the intensity of the duck.” Nick has a few more wine options: Pago Del Vicario Blanco De Tempranillo—red tempranillo grapes are fermented without the skins to create a full bodied white. As for red, Nick says to go for a Syrah, or if you’re aiming to stay local, the Whitecliff Merlot.

Beef Filet

Beef filet pairings

Photo by Adobe Stock | Brent Hofacker

“Pair a medium-rare prime rib with a clean Irish whiskey,” says Tim, who suggests Green Spot because it has just the right level of straw and grassiness to bring out the nuance of red meat. “I’d suggest taking the whiskey neat, but if that’s not your thing, then a dark, jammy, and peppery Spanish Red (such as a Tempranillo Priorat) is a natural sidekick to beef.” Christoper says a dark beer or IPA can work, too—he likes NanoBoss IPA.

Feast of the Seven Fishes

Seven fishes meal, pairings

Photo by Adobe Stock | WM2002

An Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition, the feast often includes dishes like salty cod, eel, and calamari, plus plenty of shellfish. Nowadays, many families go rogue and include their own seafood favorites. Nick recommends going with as light a red as possible, like Brotherhood Winery’s pinot noir. If you prefer to serve white, he likes Millbrook Winery’s Tocai Friulano. “It’s an Italian grape prominent in northeastern Italy,” says Nick. “Students in Cornell University’s Agricultural program had a theory that this grape would do well in the Hudson Valley—they were right.”

Glazed Ham

Glazed Ham pairings

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To complement the sweet, smoky flavor, Michael recommends Sundstrom Cider Liminal. “It’s extremely elegant, vinous and aromatic, with hints of flowers, ginger, and savory spice,” he says. Looking for a stronger option? Tim suggests a neat pour of vermouth like Method Spirits (out of Romulus in Seneca County) or a sipping rum like El Dorado Special Reserve 15-Year. “Ham lends itself to deep caramel and toffee flavors, which a good Demerara rum has in spades,” says Tim. If you want to serve beer, Christoper says glazed ham pairs wonderfully with their Brown English Ale, which has subtle hints of toffee, chocolate, and coffee. As for wine, Nick likes Whitecliff’s Rosé of Gamay Noir or Cabernet Franc.

Related: 3 Perfect Burger and Wine Pairings, According to a Hudson Valley Expert

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