When it comes to Holiday Wine Pairing Ideas for your dinner table the list can get pretty long. Let us simplify a few basic ideas to help take the stress off and let the fun celebration begin.
Your Holiday Wine Pairing Ideas should start with the menu!
Once you have established the menu it will help to narrow down the list of wines. First consider the progression of courses along with the progression of flavors. The order of serving wines with courses should be light bodied wines before full bodied wines. A dry wine prior to a sweet wine. Low alcohol prior to high alcohol wine. A youthful wine prior to an older wine and the simple prior to a complex wine.
At the average holiday table we plan for four food courses. First Course would be your starter or appetizers. Second Course would be a soup or salad. Third Course would be your main and side dishes. Course Four would be the dessert.
Starters or Appetizers – Course One
A festive way to start any holiday celebration is with Champagne or Sparkling wines. We like to serve our starters with a Blanc de Blanc Champagne or crisp Sparkling wine.
We are also fans of serving a light zesty Sauvignon Blanc or French Chablis. Both choices are light on the palate and allow you to build on the body of the wines served with your next courses.
For the red wine lovers in any family, a crisp French Rose’ is always a winning selection.
Soup and/or Salad – Course Two
When it comes to soups and salads you want to think about the level of spice in each dish. With a spicy soup pair a high acid aromatic Riesling. This is a great choice to cut the spiciness in the soup. With a milder or creamy soup a nice choice for wine would be a French White Burgundy or Chablis. Both of these wines are made from the Chardonnay grape.
If the decision is to serve salad the dressing is a key component to what wines should be served. When serving a vinaigrette you will want to select a light, high-acid white wine. so a Sparking wine or Champagne pairs well. You might select a Champagne Vinaigrette for a lovely match of flavors. We have several vinaigrette’s on this site. Click here for the link to the Champagne Vinaigrette recipe on our site.
Entree and Side Dishes – Course Three
This is where your wine selection can get tricky. We all have family traditions that we love to continue from holiday to holiday. Some families serve poultry, some love a standing rib roast, others prefer a seafood dish. Let’s give you a few ideas to help you navigate these waters.
When serving poultry as the entree, like turkey, goose or other poultry dishes, two wonderful wine selections would be a medium-bodied buttery Chardonnay. This can be served along with a light to medium-bodied Oregon Pinot Noir. Both wines will display an aromatic range of flavors with delicate floral notes that make a beautiful pairing.
If you decide on Prime Rib or Filet Mignon your selection of wine should steer you to the big full-bodied red wines. A Cabernet Sauvignon, a full-bodied Zinfandel or an Italian Sangiovese would all be excellent wines to pair with these dishes.
With the choice of a seafood dish your wine selection can vary. Here are a few great choices for the different fish dishes you might select. If you decide on oysters, a great option is Champagne or Sparkling wines. With crab or shellfish, a nice buttery Chardonnay goes well. You can also look at a crisp Pinot Gris with cold shellfish or a refreshing Riesling with warm shellfish.
With a pasta seafood dish, a crisp white wine makes a great pairing, and a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc are all excellent pairings.
With a more meaty or dense fish, like salmon or halibut, you can introduce light and lovely Rose’ or light to medium bodied Pinot Noir. These dishes also pair well with a light crisp Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.
Dessert and After Dinner drinks – Course Four
So here is where the fun begins and your imagination can take off.
The dessert course can be formal or light and include after dinner wines or liqueurs. Here are a few ideas for you to consider:
- Port Wines are a wonderful dessert companion. Either Ruby or Tawny Port can accompany many dessert selections.
- If you are serving a heavy cake or tort look into the late harvest dessert wines at your local markets. They make a wonderful companion.
- Sherry Wines such as a Fino or an Oloroso make a wonderful dessert course. Fino can also accompany meat and wild game. Oloroso pairs well with shellfish.
- Different liqueurs can accompany many kinds of desserts and make a sweet addition to an after dinner coffee. In the past, we have provided a liqueur bar, so everyone can make their own choice.
Once you have your menu in place, and the Holiday Wine Pairing Ideas complete, it will have you singing along with the best Holiday Carolers.
Enjoy a very festive Holiday Season!
A very special thank you to our dear friend Kathy A. for sharing her wine country Christmas photos for this post.