Holiday Wines – The Perfect Wines for Memorable Pairings

Holiday Wines, christmas wines, thanksgiving wines, best holiday wines

These Wines Will Brighten Your Holiday Dinner

To create delicious wine pairings for your holiday celebrations, look to friendly wines. This means you don’t want a wine which is too extreme in either direction. We don’t want your holiday wines to  offend the flavors of your delicious ham—or worse, your mother-in-law. Choose a wine pairing that is familiar and accessible. Depending on your friends and family, this could be a red wine, a white wine, or even a sparkling wine. Generally speaking, a medium-bodied wine with a healthy balance of fruit and earth flavors will please everyone and complement everything at the table. Use the below list of holiday wines for inspiration.

1. Champagne

Oh, you thought I was going to start with Beaujolais Nouveau? Your guests will likely expect the same red wine from you, too. So, pop their expectations with something fun! Champagne is not exclusive to aperitifs and dessert (I personally go for Armagnac with dessert- Brut Champagne is too dry for most sugary dishes!). Champagne is a complex sparkling wine with toasty nuances and a zesty finish which cleanses your palate with every sip. This French wine comes in a range of styles, from rich and oaky to zippy and sharp.

Champagne is one of the most versatile wines in the world. Plus, most people know when there are bubbles in their glasses it’s time to have fun. The celebratory sentiment of Champagne is the perfect wine to kick off the meal and it can be enjoyed throughout the evening. Be sure to get the good stuff—dirt cheap sparkling is usually made by pumping carbonation into mass-produced still wine. Champagne and sparkling wines made with the traditional method are naturally bubbly from a secondary fermentation in bottle.

2. Beaujolais

Ok, you win. Beaujolais is a delicious wine for the holidays and a crowd pleasure for most meals. While Beaujolais Nouveau, the fruity wine released in November, has become synonymous with Thanksgiving. Yet you’ll find much more complexity from a “cru” Beaujolais. These are from one of the ten villages permitted to label the name of their town on a bottle from the region. The Gamay grape is the star here, with low tannin and an uplifted red fruit and floral profile. Additionally, the slight spice and forest floor on the nose tames the fruit and enhances pairings with savory dishes.

3. Zinfandel

This fruity favorite is every bit as American as Beyoncé at Super Bowl half-time. Zinfandel performs better in California than perhaps anywhere else in the world. Pre-prohibition vines still thrive throughout California wine country, producing deep dried fruit, black pepper, and fern aromas. Zinfandel styles range wildly. So, be sure avoid anything too heavy or oaky when selecting your holiday wines. Shop for a brighter, more balanced style instead.

4. Grenache

Grenache juices up the palate without overshadowing the cuisine. This grape is native to southern France, but is growing in popularity in wine regions like California’s Central Coast and Australia’s McLaren Vale. The wine pairs well with food because it has body, lush fruit, and spice. Yet it doesn’t have the same density as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. French or American styles both work well as holiday wines. Provided there isn’t too much new oak influence(look for Cotes du Rhone, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or a coastal California producer).

5. Gewürtztraminer

Wines made from Gewürztraminer in Alsace have body, musk, and a surprising amount of fruit on the nose. Although lychee, orange marmalade, and guava are common aromas, the wines are balanced by forest floor and star anise flavors. Alsatian Gewürztraminer is a bit more generous in style and commonly off-dry. This subtle sweetness can actually be a lovely complement to the sweeter profile of fall flavors like roasted squash or yams. The wines are fun to drink at dinner and jump with almost as much flavor as the holiday spread.

The perfect wine pairing for the holidays isn’t about making every dish sparkle. Rather, it is about finding a wine that can pick up on something in most dishes without stealing the show. It’s about finding something that most people at the table will enjoy. The best wine pairing is a wine that guests can sip without distraction—one that is easy to enjoy. And if it also is a wine that avoids religion and politics, then we are really gravy. ;))

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