Follow this guide to pairing popular Old World reds that range from vibrant and floral to robust and fresh.
1. France – Beaujolais
Using the Gamay grape, Beaujolais produces juicy reds light enough for pan-seared fish, yet big enough to handle roast pork or rare filet mignon.
This ability to bridge a wide range of foods makes it the perfect bottle for the holiday table. Plus cru Beaujolais (from Brouilly, Moulin-au-Vent, etc.) have a peppery finish that flatters turkey.
Get the recipe: Bacon and Egg Salad
2. France – Burgundy
Made exclusively from Pinot Noir, the red wines of Burgundy are delicate and floral with considerable finesse. They go hauntingly well with any mushroom dish especially if truffles enter the equation, and there is no finer red to pour with a simple roast chicken or a yuletide bird. Open a bigger premier or grand cru with the region’s signature beef bourguignon.
Get the recipe: Pappardelle Funghi
3. Italy – Chianti
Tuscany’s most famous province pumps out some of the most food-friendly reds on the planet. Earthy, medium-bodied and bone dry, their vibrant acidity can stand up to tomato sauce, making it the ultimate pizza-pasta wine, and it’s a knockout with hard sheep’s milk cheeses like Pecorino. Chianti Classico Riserva is best saved for an august meaty main like prime rib.
Get the recipe: Chuck’s Bolognese
4. Spain – Rioja
Made from a Tempranillo-heavy blend, Rioja reds show amazing diversity at the table. Younger bottles labeled “Crianza” have the widest appeal: fresh and fruity with vibrant acidity, they are excellent with chicken and chorizo paella, or a big wedge of Manchego. Older and more heavily oaked Rioja – Reserva and Gran Reserva¬ – should be poured with game birds or lamb.
Get the recipe: Grilled Quail with Saffron Couscous
5. France – Bordeaux
The big, age-worthy reds of Bordeaux are some of the most coveted (and expensive) wines in the world. Of course there is plenty of affordable juice from less prestigious regions, and it goes really well with beef, lamb or duck. Because of the tannins in young Bordeaux, enjoy it with harder cheeses like sharp cheddar or cave-aged Gruyère.
Get the recipe: Roast Rack of Lamb with Grainy Mustard and Zinfandel Sauce
6. Italy – Amarone
Pressed from semi-dried grapes – a process called appassimento – Amarone is complex and concentrated, tasting somewhat like a dry port. These massive reds demand robust cooking like flavourful cuts of red meat slowly braised with caramelized onions and mushrooms. It’s also terrific with a postprandial cheese board laden with the strong stuff – i.e. Gouda, Gorgonzola and Parmigiano.
Get the recipe: Mona’s Brisket