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.
- Shrimp cocktail
- Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto
- Goat cheese stuffed mushrooms
- Cashews and pistachios
- Cheese tray with light colored cheeses:
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.
- Smoked salmon
- Stuffed mushrooms
- Artichoke, spinach dip
- Baked Brie
- Red pepper hummus with pita bread or vegetables
- Black olive tapenade on ciabatta toast slices
- Salted Almonds
- Cheese tray with:
- Smoked Gouda
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.
- Smoked salmon
- Stuffed mushrooms
- Red pepper hummus with vegetables or pita bread
- Cocktail meatballs
- Beef Wellington bites
- Marinated olives
- Cheese tray:
- Aged Cheddar
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
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.