Holiday Wine Guide

White wine glasses on table with bright ornaments and a Christmas tree in the background.

Time to prep for your holiday dinner party? We’ve got you covered in this Holiday Wine Guide with tips for pairing wine with appetizers, dinner, and dessert.

Not hosting? See our suggestions to select a winning host/hostess wine gift.


Appetizers and Wine Pairings

As you prepare your appetizer line up, consider starting with a lighter wine and then move to a heavier one for the main meal. This naturally prepares your palate for the next course.

Below are appetizer suggestions that pair with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, or Pinot Noir.


Line up 1: Sauvignon Blanc and appetizer pairings

(Also, look for Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé from France. Both are made with the Sauvignon Blanc grape.)

This wine works well with seafood, chicken, pork, green vegetables and light colored cheeses because it is a light wine with a high-level of acidity. Just make sure to stay away from creamy sauces, which pairs better with a Chardonnay because it is a buttery, fuller wine.


Line up 2: Oaked Chardonnay and appetizer pairings

This wine pairs well with chicken, pork, seafood and light colored cheeses, which is very similar to the Sauvignon Blanc pairings. The difference with this line up is the pairing of Oaked Chardonnay with smokey flavors and creamy bases.



Line up 3: Pinot Noir and appetizer pairings

Pinot Noir is a lighter red and would pair nicely with the Chardonnay line up. However, I’ve brought in some red meat options to this grouping of appetizers, because it will pair well with the red Pinot Noir.


Holiday Dinner and Wine Pairings

For the main course, I’ve listed a few stars of the show along with wine pairing suggestions.

Glazed Ham:  Dry Riesling (look for Kabinett on the label), Pinot Noir, Syrah

Pork Roast:  Chardonay, Pinot Noir 

Beef Roast, Steak, Prime Rib: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah,  Bordeaux (French blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), Super Tuscan (Italian blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese)

Lamb, Wild Boar, Venison:  Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Super Tuscan

Turkey:Dry Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah

Goose, Duck:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux

Salmon:  Pinot Noir


Holiday Desserts

Dessert time! Bring out those holiday treats and cookies which will pair up nicely with a few selections below. 

Dark Chocolate based desserts pair well with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Pinot Noir. 

Holiday sugar cookies and spritz cookies pair well with Sweet Riesling.

Buttery shortbread cookies pair well with Chardonnay.


Host/Hostess Wine Gifts

When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon or Russian River Valley, California. A French Red Burgundy (aka Pinot Noir) would also be a winning selection. This wine is extremely versatile, because it’s easy to drink by itself and pairs with a wide variety of food.

White wine can be a bit divisive with ‘only Sauvignon Blanc drinkers’ or ‘only Chardonnay drinkers.’ Instead consider a Riesling. Even though it is often thought of as a sweet, entry-level wine, a nice Dry Riesling (look for Kabinett on the label) is very sophisticated. It’s a versatile wine that is easy drinking on its own and pairs with a variety of food including the spicy variety. 

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