Selecting the best wines for a holiday dinner or party can be daunting, but we're here to help. We'll show you how to find the perfect wine for any festive occasion, whether it's the best Christmas wine to pair perfectly with your holiday meal, a range of reds and whites for a festive party, or just a single bottle to share with family on a relaxed Christmas morning.
The Best Wines for Holiday Meals
When pairing food with wine during the holidays, the key is to balance flavors and textures. Wines can either complement or contrast the flavors of your dishes. For instance, a dish with high acidity, like a salad with vinaigrette, pairs well with a similarly acidic wine, which can balance the flavors.
Conversely, a rich, fatty dish might best complement a wine with higher tannins, as they can cut through the richness and cleanse the palate.
Remember, pairing aims to enhance both the food and the wine. A good pairing should elevate the flavors of both, making the meal more enjoyable. While there are traditional pairings, don't be afraid to experiment. The holiday season is perfect for trying new combinations and discovering what works best for your palate.
Turkey and Traditional Thanksgiving Food
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are well-established as the best Thanksgiving wines; but don't overlook other varietals. A Gamay, particularly a Beaujolais Nouveau, can be a delightful choice with its light body and fruity flavors that won't overpower turkey. For white wine lovers, a Gewürztraminer, with its aromatic profile and a hint of sweetness, can complement the savory and often herb-infused Thanksgiving dishes.
In addition to red Zinfandel and white Riesling, consider a Spanish Tempranillo. Its flavors of cherry and plum, along with its smooth tannins, work well with the richness of pork. A Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley offers a balance of acidity and fruitiness, which can be a refreshing counterpart to a pork dish.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends are often considered the best Christmas wines if you have beef with your Christmas dinner. But you may also want to consider a robust Italian Barolo or Amarone, as their structure and complexity can match roast beef's flavors. Alternatively, Merlot’s soft tannins and ripe fruit flavors also match those preferring something less tannic.
For brisket, expand your choices to include a hearty Italian Chianti, known for a balance of acidity and tannins that complement the smokiness of brisket. With its bold flavors and firm tannins, a Californian Petite Sirah can also be an exciting pairing.
Birria and Barbacoa
Try a Spanish Garnacha (Grenache) or a Mourvèdre with these spicy and flavorful staples of the Nochebuena meal. Their fruit-forward profile and spicy undertones harmonize well with the bold flavors of birria and barbacoa. A Zinfandel's fruit and spice notes can also be a great match.
Sweet Potato Pie
In addition to late-harvest dessert wine like Riesling, a Sauternes from Bordeaux, with its luxurious sweetness and notes of apricot and honey, can be a sublime pairing with sweet potato pie. A Moscato d'Asti, with its light fizz and sweetness, also offers a delightful contrast to the spices in the pie.
The Best Wines for Festive Parties
At a holiday party, the focus is more on the wine than on pairing it with specific dishes. Your goal should be to offer a selection that caters to various palates and preferences. Here’s how to ensure your wine choices appeal to as many guests as possible.
Approachable Red Wines
The key is to avoid overly tannic red wines. Wine enthusiasts love a big, structured red. But they can be offputting to casual wine drinkers. If you want everyone to have a good time, focus on fruity, low-tannin wines on the sweeter end of the spectrum.
- Pinot Noir: A crowd-pleaser due to its moderate tannins and generally fruity profile. Its versatility and light to medium body make it enjoyable for both red and white wine drinkers.
- Merlot: Known for its soft tannins and ripe fruit flavors, Merlot is a safe choice. It's easy to drink and tends not to overpower the senses.
- Beaujolais Nouveau: Released in November, this young, fresh wine is perfect for holiday festivities. Its light body and vibrant fruit flavors are particularly appealing to those who may not typically drink red wine.
- U.S. Red Blends: American red blends are increasingly popular and can be excellent party choices. They often combine the best qualities of varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel, resulting in flavorful yet approachable wines.
Offering a selection of red and white wines at any festive gathering ensures that all guests can fill their glasses with a wine they enjoy. While red wines are often celebrated for their depth and complexity, white wines bring their own unique appeal to the table. They are lighter and often feature crisp, refreshing profiles that can be particularly appealing in a party setting.
- Sauvignon Blanc: A popular varietal known for its crisp acidity and citrusy flavors. It’s a refreshing choice that can appeal to a wide range of tastes.
- Chardonnay: Offering both oaked and unoaked versions, Chardonnay can range from rich and creamy to crisp and minerally. You can select a style that suits your guests' general preferences.
- Riesling: This wine is incredibly versatile, with options ranging from dry to sweet. Check the bottle label and go for a sweet Riesling to appeal to as many party-goers as possible.
Sparkling wines are perfect for any holiday event, especially New Year celebrations, where popping a cork at midnight is as traditional as fireworks. Additionally, mimosas are a quick and easy festive cocktail—just don't forget to stock up on orange juice.
While Champagne is the most popular choice, it's far from the only option.
- Prosecco: This Italian sparkling wine is typically lighter, sweeter, and less expensive than Champagne, making it a great choice for large gatherings.
- Cava: Spain’s answer to Champagne, Cava offers complexity and effervescence at a more approachable price point.
Happy Holidays from Wine Deals
However you celebrate the holiday season, Wine Deals is here to help you source the perfect bottle. We deliver a vast selection of wines to your door and usually ship within 24 hours.