Happy holidays! As you’re preparing for Festivus, with holiday dinner planning almost complete, consider creating a classic Feast of the Seven Fishes this year, celebrating the abundance of seafood and shellfish available here in Hawaii. And to pair, seven wines that start light and finish robust, beginning with sparkling and ending with hearty, earthy red wine. Here are a few to consider, all available on the island.
To begin your feast, sparkling wine. Enjoy approachable, fresh Prosecco, like La Marca ($15), Zardetto ($20), or Adami ($21). Or, splurge with 2011 Domaine Carneros Le Réve ($110), “The Dream” from Champagne Taittinger’s California property, opening with Meyer lemon and jasmine, followed by orchard fruit and Crème brûlée. This dreamy sparkler will pair beautifully with salt cod croquettes, or flash fried calamari.
Course two, fresh ahi poke with soy, Hawaiian chile, and scallion with Chenin Blanc. The spice from the dish will balance the fruit and floral notes of the wine. Loire Valley’s Champlou Vouvray ($30), produced in a dry style while maintaining the grape’s sweet fruitiness, is ideal with poke. Or, Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier ($18), adding stone fruit filled Viognier to the white flower notes of Chenin for an aromatic pairing.
For the third course, simply grilled or broiled white fish, like monchong, opah, or ono, with peppery arugula and lemon, melding with flinty, herbal Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre. Or, Napa Valley options, like favorites Cliff Lede ($30), Round Pond ($29), Priest Ranch ($28), or Spottswoode ($38), bursting with citrus, mineral and grassy notes.
Fourth course, lomi-lomi salmon, either fresh and salted or smoked, with poi and your favorite Rosé. Though some think Rosé is a summer-time only sipper, it is ideal all year, especially with this local favorite. Selections from Provence, filled with thyme, sage, and lavender, like Triennes ($20) and Domaine Ott ($34), are perfect.
By the fifth course dishes and wines progress with savory, succulent flavors, like macadamia nut crusted mahi-mahi, with California Chardonnay balancing creamy, lemon curd, golden apple and barrel aged spice notes. The richness of the dish will meld into the richness of the wine, with the wine’s acidity ensuring brightness and freshness lingers on the palate. Cakebread ($60), Frank Family ($35), Grgich Hills ($45), Duckhorn ($40), or Jordan ($40) will pair nicely.
Sixth, Mussels Fra Diavolo with Sangiovese, opting for an affordable Chianti Classico or decadent Brunello di Montalcino, giving a nod to the Italian history of this seven fishes feast. This dish of pasta with mussels in a spicy tomato sauce melds with the earthy Sangiovese for a classic Italian pair. Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva ($40) reveals the earthiness of the rolling Tuscan hillsides with dusty leather notes, or expressive Fattoria La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino Riserva ($110) layers the earthiness of the variety with lilac, tobacco and sweet spice.
Seventh, lau lau with smoky, peppery Rhone or Rhone-style blends. From Spain, but using classic Rhone varieties, Cellers Can Blau ($25), from the Montsant region around Priorat, has earthiness and mineral intensity from the limestone, slate and clay soils of the vineyards. The forest floor and woody herb filled wine will enhance the pork in the classic dish.
If you’re still craving meat after all of this, put a tenderloin of beef on the grill and open your favorite bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Traditional Old World Bordeaux, to celebrated Napa Valley icons Shafer ($130), Caymus ($105), Cardinale ($300) or Chateau Montelena ($105) will finish off this holiday feast with flair.
Certified Specialist of Wine and Sommelier, Hayley Hamilton Cogill, is a wine writer and educator who lives on Hawaii Island. She and her husband, film critic, Gary Cogill, co-host the podcast “Wine and Film, A Perfect Pairing” on reVolverPodcasts.com. For more pairing tips follow Hayley on Instagram and Twitter @DallasUncorked. Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryCogill.