Wassail Prep: 5 Drink Pairings For Your Delicious Holiday Feast

Photo by Flickr user Sam Craig

There’s no place like home for the holidays, and going home can prompt welcome nostalgia, mandatory merrymaking and, of course, the excess intake of alcohol (which usually triggers the first two). Give your drinking a cultured and complementary purpose by matching each drink you take down with an equally toothsome dinner course.

Starter: Bacon-wrapped Dates with Blue Cheese and Founders Brewing Co. Porter

When celebrating the birth of Christianity, you can’t go wrong by crushing an appetizer nicknamed “Devils on Horseback” and washing it down with a heavenly dark beer. Michigan brewery Founders receives a divine showering of praise for its silky smooth and sweet-smelling porter, boasting notes of chocolate, caramel and dried fruit to match the blue cheese, bacon and date to an angelic degree. Just remember when hoarding a platter of these dates to yourself in the restroom, what would Jesus do?

Side: Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Shacksbury 2014 Classic

Sweet root vegetables relish in the bright and juicy acidity provided by a dry and tannic cider, brought to this dinner table by Shacksbury in Vermont. The ooey, gooey creaminess of mashed sweet potatoes (plus inevitable cream) makes the dish rich at the root, something a bold Old World-inspired cider can slice through with acid and ripe, bittersweet apple flavors. For added effect, throw in some herbs to the mash to bring out the savory side of the tipple and start quoting drunken cider lover Benjamin Franklin.

Main: Roast Beef and Anglim Winery 2011 Syrah, Paso Robles

A customary slab of meat that is slow-cooked in a hot oven, roast beef seasonings can come in all shapes, sizes and flavors, from herb-crusted to a balsamic-mustard-coated. Your safest pairing bet is to focus on the beef itself: The minerally, juicy, sometimes-smoky and always-savory umami flavors are almost guaranteed to go with a similarly profiled Syrah. From California’s Paso Robles, Anglim Winery’s hits all the necessary marks with dried flowers, black fruits, pepper spice and even a little toasty aroma of cigar wrapper to rock that roast into 2017.

Dessert: Pecan Pie and 2Bar Bourbon

Even though Thanksgiving is over doesn’t mean you have to shy off your ‘Murican pride. Dive even deeper with a pairing that is derived from Southern roots: pecan pie and bourbon. The pecan is native to North America, while the gooey-sweet nut dessert was first seen in Texas and Louisiana. And it’s hard to forget bourbon was born in Kentucky County. Expand your patriotism with the 2Bar bourbon made in Washington State, purely from Northwest ingredients. Cereal grains, browned butter and wood spice with notes of butterscotch and vanilla make this pairing your civic duty.

Late Night Binging: Santa’s Cookies with New Belgium Imperial Chocolate Coffee Stout

You naughty little shit. You’re on the bad list for sure after this gluttonous act, so you might as well succumb to full-fledged hedonism and drink a 10 percent ABV beer while you’re at it. Wash down those chocolate chips and sweet dough with a bottle of New Belgium’s stout that is as billed: brimming with chocolate, coffee and dark malts. Smack those lips and savor the sweetness being polished by mild bitter hops and a crack of coffee astringency. Just as naughty: Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout and Chocolate and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale.

Erin James :Erin James is the editor-in-chief of Sip Publishing, publishers of Sip Northwest and CIDERCRAFT magazines, and a longtime freelance writer and editor with a focus on food, beverage and travel writing.